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The  Lady  with  the  Dog 3 

A  Doctor's  Visit      .  , 31 

An  Upheaval 51 

loNiTCH 65 

The  Head  of  the  Family 95 

The  Black  Monk 103 

Volodya 155 

An  Anonymous  Story 177 

The  Husband 293 




It  was  said  that  a  new  person  had  appeared  on 
the  sea-frcnt:  a  lady  with  a  little  dog.  Dmitri 
Dmitritch  Gurov,  who  had  by  then  been  a  tort- 
night  at  Yalta,  and  so  was  fairly  at  home  there, 
had  begun  to  take  an  interest  in  new  arrivals. 
Sitting  in  Verney's  pavilion,  he  saw,  walking  on  the 
sea-front,  a  fair-haired  younjr  lady  of  medium 
height,  wearing  a  beret  \  a  white  Pomeranian  dog 
was  running  behind  her. 

And  afterwards  he  met  her  in  the  public  gardens 
and  in  the  square  several  times  a  day.  She  was 
walking  alone,  always  wearing  the  same  beret^  and 
always  with  the  same  white  dog;  no  one  knew  who 
she  was,  and  every  one  called  her  simply  ^'  the  lady 
wich  the  dog." 

"  If  she  is  here  alone  without  a  husband  or 
friends,  it  wouldn't  be  amiss  to  make  her  ac- 
quaintance,'* Gurov  reflected. 

He  was  under  forty,  but  he  had  a  daughter 
already  twelve  years  old,  and  two  sons  at  school. 
He  had  been  married  young,  when  he  was  a  student 
in  his  second  year,   and  by  now  his  wife  seemed 


4  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

half  as  old  again  as  he.  She  was  a  tall,  erect 
woman  witn  dark  eyebrows,  staid  and  dignified, 
and,  as  she  said  of  herself,  intellectual.  She  read 
a  great  deal,  used  phonetic  spelling,  called  her  hus- 
band, not  Dmitri,  but  Dimitri,  and  he  secretly  con- 
sidered her  unintelligent,  narrow,  inelegant,  was 
afraid  of  her,  and  did  not  like  to  be  at  home.  He 
had  begun  being  unfaithful  to  her  long  ago  —  had 
been  untaithfui  to  her  often,  and,  probably  on  that 
account,  almost  always  spoke  ill  of  women,  and 
when  they  were  talked  about  in  his  presence,  used 
to  call  them  "  the  lower  race." 

It  seemed  to  him  that  he  had  been  so  schooled 
by  bitter  experience  that  he  might  call  them  what 
he  liked,  and  yet  he  could  not  get  on  for  two  days 
together  without  *'  the  lower  race."  In  the  society 
of  men  he  was  bored  and  not  himself,  with  them 
he  was  cold  and  uncommunicative;  but  when  he  was 
in  the  company  of  women  he  felt  free,  and  knew 
what  to  say  to  them  and  how  to  behave;  and  he 
was  at  ease  with  them  even  when  he  was  silent. 
In  his  appearance,  in  his  character,  in  his  whole 
nature,  there  was  something  attractive  and  elusive 
which  allured  women  and  disposed  them  in  his 
favour;  he  knew  that,  and  some  force  seemed  to 
draw  him,  too,  to  them. 

Experience  often  repeated,  truly  bitter  experience, 
had  taught  him  long  ago  tnat  with  decent  people, 
especially  Moscow  people  —  always  slow  to  move 
and  Irresolute  —  every  intimacy,  which  at  first  so 
agreeably  diversifies  life  and  appears  a  light  and 
charming  adventure,  inevitably  grows  into  a  regular 

The  Lady  with  the  Dog  5 

problem  of  extreme  intricacy,  and  in  the  long  run 
the  situation  becomes  unbearable.  But  at  every 
fresh  meeting  with  an  interesting  woman  this  experi- 
ence seemed  to  slip  out  of  his  memory,  and  he  was 
eager  for  life,  and  everything:  seemed  simple  and 

One  evening  he  was  dining  in  the  gardens,  and 
the  lady  in  the  heret  came  up  slowly  to  take  the 
next  table.  Her  expression,  her  gait,  her  dress, 
and  the  way  she  did  her  hair  told  him  that  she  was 
a  lady,  that  she  was  married,  that  she  was  in  Yalta 
for  the  ^rst  time  and  alone,  and  that  she  was  dull 
there.  .  .  .  The  stories  told  of  the  immorality  in 
such  places  as  Yalta  are  to  a  great  extent  untrue; 
he  despised  them,  and  knew  that  such  stories  were 
for  the  most  part  made  up  by  persons  who  would 
themselves  have  been  glad  to  sin  if  they  had  been 
able;  but  when  the  lady  sat  down  at  the  next  table 
three  paces  from  him,  he  remembered  these  tales 
of  easy  conquests,  of  trips  to  the  mountains,  and 
the  tempting  thought  of  a  swift,  fleeting  love  affair, 
ft  romance  with  an  unknown  woman,  whose  name 
he  did  not  know,  suddenly  took  possession  of 

He  beckoned  coaxingly  to  the  Pomeranian,  and 
when  the  dog  came  up  to  him  he  shook  his  finger 
at  it.  The  Pomeranian  growled:  Gurov  shook  his 
finger  at  it  again. 

The  lady  looked  at  him  and  at  once  dropped  her 

"  He  doesn't  bite,"  she  said,  and  blushed. 

"  May  I  give  him  a  bone?  "  he  asked;  and  when 

6  *    The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

she  nodded  he  asked  courteously,  "  Have  you  been 
long  In  Yalta?  " 

"  Five  days." 

"  And  I  have  already  dragged  out  a  fortnight 

There  was  a  brief  silence. 

*'  Time  goes  fast,  and  yet  it  is  so  dull  here !  " 
she  said,  not  looking  at  him. 

*'  That's  only  the  fashion  to  say  It  is  dull  here. 
A  provincial  will  live  in  Belyov  or  Zhidra  and  not 
be  dull,  and  when  he  comes  here  it's  '  Oh,  the  dul- 
ness !  Oh,  the  dust !  '  One  would  think  he  came 
from  Grenada." 

She  laughed.  Then  both  continued  eating  in 
silence,  like  strangers,  but  after  dinner  they  walked 
side  by  side;  and  there  sprang  up  between  them  the 
light  jesting  conversation  of  people  who  are  free 
and  satisfied,  to  whom  it  does  not  matter  where 
they  go  or  what  they  talk  about.  They  walked  and 
talked  of  the  strange  light  on  the  sea :  the  water  was 
of  a  soft  warm  lilac  hue,  and  there  was  a  golden 
streak  from  the  moon  upon  it.  They  talked  of  how 
sultry  It  was  after  a  hot  day.  Gurov  told  her  that 
he  came  from  Moscow,  that  he  had  taken  his  degree 
In  Arts,  but  had  a  post  in  a  bank;  that  he  had  trained 
as  an  opera-singer,  but  had  given  it  up,  that  he 
owned  two  houses  In  Moscow.  .  .  .  And  from  her 
he  learnt  that  she  had  grown  up  In  Petersburg,  but 

had  lived  In  S since  her  marriage  two  years 

before,  that  she  was  staying  another  month  in 
Yalta,  and  that  her  husband,  who  needed  a  holiday 
too,  might  perhaps  come  and  fetch  her.     She  was 

The  Lady  with  the  Dog  7 

not  sure  whether  her  husband  had  a  post  in  a  Crown 
Department  or  under  the  Provincial  Council  —  and 
was  amused  by  her  own  ignorance.  And  Gurov 
learnt,  too,  that  she  was  called  Anna  Sergeyevna. 

Afterwards  he  thought  about  her  in  his  room  at 
the  hotel  —  thought  she  would  certainly  meet  him 
next  day;  it  would  be  sure  to  happen.  As  he  got 
Into  bed  he  thought  how  lately  she  had  been  a  girl 
at  school,  doing  lessons  like  his  own  daughter;  he 
recalled  the  diffidence,  the  angularity,  that  was  still 
manifest  in  her  laugh  and  her  manner  of  talking  with 
a  stranger.  This  must  have  been  the  first  time  in 
her  life  she  had  been  alone  In  surroundings  in  which 
she  was  followed,  looked  at,  and  spoken  to  merely 
from  a  secret  motive  which  she  could  hardly  fail  to 
guess.  He  recalled  her  slender,  delicate  neck,  her 
lovely  grey  eyes. 

"  There's  something  pathetic  about  her,  anyway," 
he  thought,  and  fell  asleep. 


A  week  had  passed  since  they  had  made  ac- 
quaintance. It  was  a  holiday.  It  was  sultry  In- 
doors, while  in  the  street  the  wind  whirled  the  dust 
round  and  round,  and  blew  people's  hats  off.  It 
was  a  thirsty  day,  and  Gurov  often  went  into  the 
pavilion,  and  pressed  Anna  Sergeyevna  to  have 
syrup  and  water  or  an  ice.  One  did  not  know  what 
to  do  with  oneself. 

In  the  evening  when  the  wind  had  dropped  a 
little,  they  went  out  on  the  groyne  to  see  the  steamer 

8  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

come  in.  There  were  a  great  many  people  walking 
about  the  harbour;  they  had  gathered  to  welcome 
some  one,  bringing  bouquets.  And  two  peculiari- 
ties of  a  well-dressed  Yalta  crowd  were  very  con- 
spicuous: the  elderly  ladies  were  dressed  like  young 
ones,  and  there  were  great  numbers  of  generals. 

Owing  to  the  roughness  of  the  sea,  the  steamer 
arrived  late,  after  the  sun  had  set,  and  it  was  a 
long  time  turning  about  before  it  reached  the  groyne. 
Anna  Sergeyevna  looked  through  her  lorgnette  at 
the  steamer  and  the  passengers  as  though  looking 
for  acquaintances,  and  when  she  turned  to  Gurov 
her  eyes  were  shining.  She  talked  a  great  deal  and 
asked  disconnected  questions,  forgetting  next  mo- 
ment what  she  had  asked;  then  she  dropped  her 
lorgnette  in  the  crush. 

The  festive  crowd  began  to  disperse;  it  was  too 
dark  to  see  people's  faces.  The  wind  had  com- 
pletely dropped,  but  Gurov  and  Anna  Sergeyevna 
still  stood  as  though  waiting  to  see  some  one  else 
come  from  the  steamer.  Anna  Sergeyevna  was 
silent  now,  and  sniffed  the  flowers  without  looking 
at  Gurov. 

"  The  weather  is  better  this  evening,"  he  said. 
"Where  shall  we  go  now?  Shall  we  drive  some- 

She  made  no  answer. 

Then  he  looked  at  her  intently,  and  all  at  once 
put  his  arm  round  her  and  kissed  her  on  the  lips, 
and  breathed  In  the  moisture  and  the  fragrance  of 
the  flowers;  and  he  immediately  looked  round  him, 
anxiously  wondering  whether  any  one  had  seen  them. 

The  Lady  with  the  Dog  9 

*'  Let  us  go  to  your  hotel,"  he  said  softly.  And 
both  walked  quickly. 

The  room  was  close  and  smelt  of  the  scent  she 
had  bought  at  the  Japanese  shop.  Gurov  looked 
at  her  and  thought:  "What  different  people  one 
meets  In  the  world !  "  FrOiTi  the  past  he  preserved 
memories  of  careless,  good-natured  women,  who 
loved  cheerfully  and  were  grateful  to  him  for  the 
happiness  he  gave  them,  however  brief  It  might  be ; 
and  of  women  like  his  wife  who  loved  without  any 
genuine  feeling,  with  superfluous  phrases,  affect- 
edly, hysterically,  with  an  expression  that  suggested 
that  It  was  not  love  nor  passion,  but  something 
more  significant;  and  of  two  or  three  others,  very 
beautiful,  cold  women,  on  whose  faces  he  had  caught 
a  glimpse  of  a  rapacious  expression  —  an  obstinate 
desire  to  snatch  from  life  more  than  it  could  give, 
and  these  were  capricious,  unreflecting,  domineering, 
unintelligent  women  not  In  their  first  youth,  and 
when  Gurov  grew  cold  to  them  their  beauty  excited 
his  hatred,  and  the  lace  on  their  linen  seemed  to 
him  like  scales. 

But  in  this  case  there  was  still  the  diffidence,  the 
angularity  of  inexperienced  youth,  an  awkward 
feeling;  and  there  was  a  sense  of  consternation  as 
though  some  one  had  suddenly  knocked  at  the  door. 
The  attitude  of  Anna  Sergeyevna  —  *'  the  lady  with 
the  dog  '*  —  to  what  had  happened  was  somehow 
peculiar,  very  grave,  as  though  it  were  her  fall  — 
so  It  seemed,  and  It  was  strange  and  Inappropriate. 
Her  face  dropped  and  faded,  and  on  both  sides  of 
it  her  long  hair  hung  down  mournfully;  she  mused 

10  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

in  a  dejected  attitude  like  "  the  woman  who  was  a 
sinner  "   in  an  old-fashioned  picture. 

"  It's  wrong,"  she  said.  "  You  will  be  the  first 
to  despise  me  now.'* 

There  was  a  water-melon  on  the  table.  Gurov 
cut  himself  a  slice  and  began  eating  It  without  haste. 
There  followed  at  least  half  an  hour  of  silence. 

Anna  Sergeyevna  was  touching;  there  '\ras  about 
her  the  purity  of  a  good,  simple  woman  who  had 
seen  little  of  life.  The  solitary  candle  burning  on 
the  table  threw  a  faint  light  on  her  face,  yet  It  was 
clear  that  she  was  very  unhappy. 

"How  could  1  despise  you?"  asked  Gurov. 
"  You  don't  know  what  you  are  saying." 

"  God  forgive  me,"  she  said,  and  her  eyes  filled 
with  tears.     "  It's  awful." 

*'  You  seem  to  feel  you  need  to  be  forgiven." 

"Forgiven?  No.  I  am  a  bad,  low  woman;  I 
de9pise  myself  and  don't  attempt  to  justify  myself. 
It's  not  my  husband  but  myself  I  have  deceived. 
And  not  only  just  now;  I  have  been  deceiving  myself 
for  a  long  time.  My  husband  may  be  a  good, 
honest  man,  but  he  Is  a  flunkey!  I  don't  know 
what  he  does  there,  what  his  work  is,  but  I  know 
he  Is  a  flunkey !  I  was  twenty  when  I  was  married 
to  him.  I  have  been  tormented  by  curiosity;  I 
wanted  something  better.  '  There  must  be  a  dif- 
ferent sort  of  life,'  I  said  to  myself.  I  wanted  to 
live!  To  live,  to  Hvel  ...  I  was  fired  by  curi- 
osity .  .  .  you  don't  understand  It,  but,  I  swear  to 
God,  I  could  not  control  myself;  something  hap- 
pened to  me :  I  could  not  be  restrained.     I  told  my 

The  Lady  with  the  Dog  ii 

husband  I  was  ill,  and  came  here.  .  .  .  And  here 
I  have  been  walking  about  as  though  1  were  dazed, 
like  a  mad  creature;  .  .  .  and  now  I  have  become 
a  vulgar,  contemptible  woman  whom  any  one  may 

Gurov  felt  bored  already,  listening  to  her.  He 
was  irritated  by  the  naive  tone,  by  this  remorse,  so 
unexpected  and  inopportune;  but  for  the  tears  in 
her  eyes,  he  might  have  thought  she  w^as  jesting  or 
playing  a  part. 

"  I  don't  understand,"  he  said  softly.  "  What 
Is  It  you  want?  " 

She  hid  her  face  on  his  breast  and  pressed  close 
to  him. 

"  Believe  me,  believe  me,  I  beseech  you  .  .  ." 
she  said.  "  I  love  a  pure,  honest  life,  and  sin  Is 
loathsome  to  me.  I  don't  know  what  I  am  doing. 
Simple  people  say:  *  The  Evil  One  has  beguiled 
me.'  And  I  may  say  of  myself  now  that  the  Evil 
One  has  beguiled  me." 

"Hush,  hush!   .  .  ."  he  muttered. 

He  looked  at  her  fixed,  scared  eyes,  kissed  her, 
talked  softly  and  affectionately,  and  by  decrrees  she 
was  comforted,  and  her  gaiety  returned;  they  both 
began  laughing. 

Afterwards  when  they  went  out  there  was  not 
a  soul  on  the  sea-front.  The  town  with  its  cypresses 
had  quite  a  deathlike  air,  but  the  sea  still  broke 
noisily  on  the  shore;  a  single  barge  was  rocking 
on  the  waves,  and  a  lantern  was  blinking  sleepily 
on  it. 

They  found  a  cab  and  drove  to  Orcanda. 

12  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

"  I  found  out  your  surname  In  the  hall  just  now: 
It  was  written  on  the  board  —  Von  Diderits,"  said 
Gurov.     *'  Is  your  husband  a  German?  " 

"No;  I  believe  his  grandfather  was  a  German, 
but  he  Is  an  Orthodox  Russian  himself." 

At  Oreanda  they  sat  on  a  seat  not  far  from  the 
church,  looked  down  at  the  sea,  and  were  silent. 
Yalta  was  hardly  visible  through  the  morning  mist; 
white  clouds  stood  motionless  on  the  mountain-tops. 
The  leaves  did  not  stir  on  the  trees,  grasshoppers 
chirruped,  and  the  monotonous  hollow  sound  of 
the  sea  rising  up  from  below,  spoke  of  the  peace,  of 
the  eternal  sleep  awaiting  us.  So  it  must  have 
sounded  when  there  was  no  Yalta,  no  Oreanda  here; 
so  It  sounds  now,  and  It  will  sound  as  Indifferently 
and  monotonously  when  we  are  all  no  more.  And 
in  this  constancy,  in  this  complete  indifference  to 
the  life  and  death  of  each  of  us,  there  lies  hid,  per- 
haps, a  pledge  of  our  eternal  salvation,  of  the  un- 
ceasing movement  of  life  upon  earth,  of  unceasing 
progress  towards  nerfection.  Sittmg  beside  a 
young  woman  who  in  the  dawm  seemed  so  lovely, 
soothed  and  spellbound  In  these  magical  surround- 
ings—  the  sea,  mountains,  clouds,  the  opeii  sky  — 
Gurov  thought  how  In  reality  everything  is  beautiful 
In  this  world  when  one  reflects :  everything  except 
what  we  think  or  do  ourselves  when  we  torget  our 
human  dignity  and  the  higher  aims  of  our  exist- 

A  man  walked  up  to  them  —  probably  a  keeper  — 
looked  at  them  and  walked  away.  And  this  detail 
seemed  mysterious  and  beautiful,   too.     lliey  saw 

The  Lady  with  the  Dog  13 

a  steamer  come  from  Theodosia,  with  Its  lights  out 
in  the  glow  of  dawn. 

"  There  Is  dew  on  the  grass,"  said  Anna  Sergey- 
evna,  after  a  silence. 

''  Yes.     It's  time  to  go  home." 

They  went  back  to  the  town. 

Then  they  met  every  day  at  twelve  o'clock  on  the 
sea-front,  lunched  and  dined  together,  went  for 
walks,  admired  the  sea.  She  complained  that  she 
slept  badly,  that  her  heart  throbbed  violently;  asked 
the  same  questions,  troubled  now  by  jealousy  and 
now  by  the  fear  that  he  did  not  respect  her  suffi- 
ciently. And  often  In  the  s»quare  or  gardens,  when 
there  was  no  one  near  them,  he  suddenly  drew  her 
to  him  and  kissed  her  passionately.  Complete  Idle- 
ness, these  kisses  In  broad  daylight  while  he  looked 
round  In  dread  of  some  one's  seeing  them,  the  heat, 
the  smell  of  the  sea,  and  the  continual  passing  to 
and  fro  before  him  of  Idle,  well-dressed,  well-fed 
people,  made  a  new  man  of  him;  he  told  Anna  Ser- 
geyevna  how  beautiful  she  was,  how  fascinating. 
He  was  Impatiently  passionate,  he  would  not  move 
a  step  away  from  her,  while  she  was  often  pensive 
and  continually  urged  him  to  confess  that  he  did  not 
respect  her,  did  not  love  her  In  the  least,  and  thought 
of  her  as  nothing  but  a  common  woman.  Rather 
late  almost  every  evening  they  drove  somewhere  out 
of  town,  to  Oreanda  or  to  the  waterfall;  and  the  ex- 
pedition was  always  a  success,  the  scenery  invariably 
impressed  them  as  grand  and  beautiful. 

They  were  expecting  her  husband  to  come,  but  a 
letter  came  from  him,  saying  that  there  was  some- 

14  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

thing  wrong  with  his  eyes,  and  he  entreated  his  wife 
to  come  home  as  quickly  i^s  possible.  /\nn?  Ser- 
geyevi^a  made  haste  to  go. 

''  It's  a  good  thing  1  am  going  away,"  she  said  to 
Gurov.     "  It's  the  finger  o^  destiny!  " 

She  vient  by  coach  and  he  went  with  her.  They 
were  driving  the  whole  day.  When  she  had  got 
into  a  compartment  of  the  express,  and  when  the 
second  bell  had  rung,  she  said: 

"  Let  me  look  at  you  once  more  .  .  .  look  at  you 
once  again.     That's  right." 

She  did  not  shed  tears,  but  was  so  sad  that  she 
seemed  ill,  and  her  face  was  quivering. 

"  I  shall  remember  you  .  .  .  think  of  you,"  she 
said.  *'  God  be  with  you ;  be  happy.  Don't  remem- 
ber evil  against  me.  We  are  parting  forever  —  it 
must  be  so,  for  we  ought  never  to  have  met.  Well, 
God  be  with  you.'^ 

The  train  moved  off  rapidly,  its  lights  soon  van- 
ished from  sight,  and  a  minute  later  there  was  no 
sound  of  it,  as  though  everything  had  conspired  to- 
gether to  end  as  quickly  as  possible  that  sweet  de- 
lirium, that  madness.  Left  alone  on  the  platform, 
and  gazing  into  the  dark  distance,  Gurov  listened  to 
the  chirrup  of  the  grasshoppers  and  the  hum  of  the 
telegraph  wires,  feeling  as  though  he  had  only  just 
waked  up.  And  he  thought,  musing,  that  there  had 
been  another  episode  or  adventure  in  his  life,  and  it, 
too,  was  at  an  end,  and  nothing  was  left  of  it  but  a 
memory.  .  .  .  He  was  moved,  sad,  and  conscious  of 
a  slight  remorse.  This  young  woman  whom  he 
would  never  meet  again  had  not  been  happy  with 

The  Lady  with  the  Dog  15 

him;  he  was  genuinely  warm  and  affectionate  with 
her,  but  yet  In  his  manner,  his  tone,  and  his  caresses 
there  had  been  a  shade  of  light  Irony,  the  coarse  con- 
descension of  a  happy  man  who  was,  besides,  almost 
twice  her  age.  All  the  time  she  had  called  him  kind, 
exceptional,  lofty;  obviously  he  had  seemed  to  her 
different  from  what  he  really  was,  so  he  had  uninten- 
tionally deceived  her.  .  .  . 

Here  at  the  station  w^as  already  a  scent  of  autumn; 
It  was  a  cold  evening. 

''  It's  time  for  me  to  go  north,"  thought  Gurov  as 
he  left  the  platform.     "  High  time!  " 


At  home  in  Moscow  everything  was  in  Its  winter 
routine;  the  stoves  were  heated,  and  In  the  morning 
It  was  still  dark  when  the  children  were  having  break- 
fast and  getting  ready  for  school,  and  the  nurse 
would  light  the  lamp  for  a  short  time.  The  frosts 
had  begun  already.  When  the  first  snow  has  fallen, 
on  the  first  day  of  sledge-driving  it  is  pleasant  to  see 
the  white  earth,  the  white  roofs,  to  draw  soft,  de- 
licious breath,  and  the  season  brings  back  the  days 
of  one's  youth.  The  old  limes  and  birches,  white 
with  hoar-frost,  have  a  good-natured  expression; 
they  are  nearer  to  one's  heart  than  cypresses  and 
palms,  and  near  them  one  doesn't  want  to  be  think- 
ing of  the  sea  and  the  mountains. 

Gurov  was  Moscow  born ;  he  arrived  in  Moscow 
on  a  fine  frosty  day,  and  when  he  put  on  his  fur 
coat  and  warm  gloves,  and  walked  along  Petrovka, 

l6  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

and  when  on  Saturday  evening  he  heard  the  ringing 
of  the  bells,  his  recent  trip  and  the  places  he  had  seen 
lost  all  charm  for  him.  Little  by  little  he  became 
absorbed  in  Moscow  life,  greedily  read  three  news- 
papers a  day,  and  declared  he  did  not  read  the  Mos- 
cow papers  on  principle !  He  already  felt  a  longing 
to  go  to  restaurants,  clubs,  dinner-parties,  anniver- 
sary celebrations,  and  he  felt  flattered  at  entertaining 
distinguished  lawyers  and  artists,  and  at  playing 
cards  with  a  professor  at  the  doctors'  club.  He 
could  already  eat  a  whole  plateful  of  salt  fish  and 
cabbage.  .  .  . 

In  another  month,  he  fancied,  the  Image  of  Anna 
Sergeyevna  would  be  shrouded  In  a  mist  in  his  mem- 
ory, and  only  from  time  to  time  would  visit  him  In 
his  dreams  with  a  touching  smile  as  others  did.  But 
more  than  a  month  passed,  real  winter  had  come, 
and  everything  was  still  clear  in  his  memory  as 
though  he  had  parted  with  Anna  Sergeyevna  only 
the  day  before.  And  his  memories  glowed  more 
and  more  vividly.  When  In  the  evening  stillness  he 
heard  from  his  study  the  voices  of  his  children,  pre- 
paring their  lessons,  or  when  he  listened  to  a  song 
or  the  organ  at  the  restaurant,  or  the  storm  howled 
in  the  chimney,  suddenly  everything  would  rise  up 
In  his  memory:  what  had  happened  on  the  groyne, 
and  the  early  morning  with  the  mist  on  the  moun- 
tains, and  the  steamer  coming  from  Theodosia,  and 
the  kisses.  He  would  pace  a  long  time  about  his 
room,  remembering  It  all  and  smiling;  then  his  mem- 
ories passed  Into  dreams,  and  In  his  fancy  the  past 
was  mingled  with  what  was  to  come.     Anna  Sergey- 

The  Lady  with  the  Dog  17 

evnq  did  not  visit  him  in  dreams,  but  followed  him 
about  everywhere  like  a  shadow  and  haunted  him. 
When  he  shut  his  eyes  he  saw  her  as  though  she  were 
living  before  him,  and  she  seemed  to  him  lovelier, 
younger,  tenderer  than  she  was;  and  he  imagined 
himself  finer  than  he  had  been  in  Yalta.  In  the 
evenings  she  peeped  out  at  him  from  the  bookcase, 
from  the  fireplace,  from  the  corner  —  he  heard  her 
breathing,  the  caressing  rustle  of  her  dress.  In  the 
street  he  watched  the  women,  looking  for  some  one 
like  her. 

He  was  tormented  by  an  Intense  desire  to  confide 
his  memories  to  some  one.  But  in  his  home  it  was 
impossible  to  talk  of  his  love,  and  he  had  no  one  out- 
side; he  could  not  talk  to  his  tenants  nor  to  any  one 
at  the  bank.  And  what  had  he  to  talk  of  ?  Had  he 
been  in  love,  then?  Had  there  been  anything  beau- 
tiful, poetical,  or  edifying  or  simply  interesting  in  his 
relations  with  Anna  Sergeyevna?  And  there  was 
nothing  for  him  but  to  talk  vaguely  of  love,  of 
woman,  and  no  one  guessed  what  It  meant;  only 
his  wife  twitched  her  black  eyebrows,  and  said: 
"  The  part  of  a  lady-killer  does  not  suit  you  at  all, 

One  evening,  coming  out  of  the  doctors'  club  with 
an  official  with  whom  he  had  been  playing  cards,  he 
could  not  resist  saying: 

''  If  only  you  knew  what  a  fascinating  woman  I 
made  the  acquaintance  of  in  Yalta !  " 

The  official  got  into  his  sledge  and  was  driving 
away,  but  turned  suddenly  and  shouted: 

"  Dmitri  Dmitrltch!  " 

l8  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 


*'  You  were  right  this  evening:  the  sturgeon  was  a 
bit  too  strong  !  " 

These  words,  so  ordinary,  for  some  reason  moved 
Gurov  to  indignation,  and  struck  him  as  degrading 
and  unclean.  What  savage  manners,  what  people ! 
What  senseless  nights,  what  uninteresting,  unevent- 
ful days !  The  rage  for  card-playing,  the  gluttony, 
the  drunkenness,  the  continual  talk  always  about  the 
same  thing.  Useless  pursuits  and  conversations  al- 
ways about  the  same  things  absorb  the  better  part  of 
one's  time,  the  better  part  of  one's  strength,  and  in 
the  end  there  is  left  a  life  grovelling  and  curtailed, 
worthless  and  trivial,  and  there  is  no  escaping  or 
getting  away  from  it  —  just  as  though  one  were  in 
a  madhouse  or  a  prison. 

Gurov  did  not  sleep  all  night,  and  was  filled  with 
indignation.  And  he  had  a  headache  all  next  day. 
And  the  next  night  he  slept  badly;  he  sat  up  in  bed, 
thinking,  or  paced  up  and  down  his  room.  He  was 
sick  of  his  children,  sick  of  the  bank;  he  had  no  de- 
sire to  go  anywhere  or  to  talk  of  anything. 

~  In  the  holidays  in  December  he  prepared  for  a 
journey,  and  told  his  wife  he  was  going  to  Peters- 
burg to  do  something  in  the  interests  of  a  young 

friend  —  and   he    set   off    for   S .     What   for? 

He  did  not  very  well  know  himself.  He  wanted  to 
see  Anna  Sergeyevna  and  to  talk  with  her  —  to  ar- 
range a  meeting,  if  possible. 

He  reached  S in  the  morning,  and  took  the 

best  room  at  the  hotel,  in  which  the  floor  was  cov- 
ered with  grey  army  cloth,  and  on  the  table  was  an 

The  Lady  with  the  Dog  ig 

inkstand,  grey  with  dust  and  adorned  with  a  figure 
on  horseback,  with  its  hat  in  its  hand  and  its  head 
broken  off.  The  hotel  porter  gave  him  the  neces- 
sary information;  Von  Diderits  hved  in  a  house  of 
his  own  in  Old  Gontcharny  Street  —  it  was  not  far 
from  the  hotel:  he  was  rich  and  lived  in  good  style, 
and  had  his  own  horses:  every  one  m  the  town  knew 
him.     The  porter  pronounced  the  name  "'  Dridirits." 

Gurov  went  without  haste  to  Old  Gontcharny 
Street  and  found  the  house.  Just  opposite  the  house 
stretched  a  long  grey  fence  adorned  with  nails. 

"One -would  run  away  from  a  fence  like  that," 
thought  Gurov,  looking  from  the  fence  to  the  win- 
dows of  the  house  and  back  again. 

He  considered:  to-day  was  a  holiday,  and  the  hus- 
band would  probably  be  at  home.  And  in  any  case 
it  would  be  tactless  to  go  into  the  house  and  upset 
her.  If  he  were  to  send  her  a  note  it  might  fall 
into  her  husband's  hands,  and  then  it  might  ruin 
everything.  The  best  thlnpj  was  to  trust  to  chance. 
And  he  kept  walking  up  and  down  the  street  by  the 
fence,  waiting  for  the  chance.  He  saw  a  beggar  go 
in  at  the  gate  and  dogs  fly  at  him;  then  an  hour  later 
he  heard  a  piano,  and  the  sounds  were  faint  and  in- 
distinct. Probably  it  was  Anna  Sergeyevna  playing. 
The  front  door  suddenly  opened,  and  an  old  woman 
came  out,  followed  by  the  familiar  white  Pomera- 
nian. Gurov  was  on  the  point  of  calling  to  the  dog, 
but  his  heart  be^ran  beating  violently,  and  in  his  ex- 
citement he  could  not  remember  the  dog's  name. 

He  walked  up  and  down,  and  loathed  the  grey 
fence  more  and  more,  and  by  now  he  thought  irrl- 

20  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

tably  that  Anna  Sergeyevna  had  forgotten  him,  and 
was  perhaps  already  amusing  herself  with  some  one 
else,  and  that  that  was  very  natural  In  a  young 
woman  who  had  nothing  to  look  at  from  morning 
till  night  but  that  confounded  fence.  He  went  back 
to  his  hotel  room  and  sat  for  a  long  while  on  the 
sofa,  not  knowing  what  to  do,  then  he  had  dinner 
and  a  long  nap. 

"How  stupid  and  worrying  it  is!"  he  thought 
when  he  woke  and  looked  at  the  dark  windows :  it 
was  already  evening.  *'  Here  I've  had  a  good  sleep 
for  some  reason.     What  shall  I  do  in  the  night?" 

He  sat  on  the  bed,  which  was  covered  by  a  cheap 
grey  blanket,  such  as  one  sees  in  hospitals,  and  he 
taunted  himself  in  his  vexation: 

*'  So  much  for  the  lady  with  the  dog  ...  so  much 
for  the  adventure.  .   .  .  You're  in  a  nice  fix.   .  .  ." 

That  morning  at  the  station  a  poster  in  large  let- 
ters had  caught  his  eye.  "  The  Geisha  "  was  to  be 
performed  for  the  first  time.  He  thought  of  this 
and  went  to  the  theatre. 

"  It's  quite  possible  she  may  go  to  the  first  per- 
formance," he  thought. 

The  theatre  was  full.  As  in  all  provincial  thea- 
tres, there  was  a  fog  above  the  chandelier,  the  gal- 
lery was  noisy  and  restless;  in  the  front  row  the  local 
dandies  were  standing  up  before  the  beginning  of  the 
performance,  with  their  hands  behind  them;  in  the 
Governor's  box  the  Governor's  daughter,  wearing  a 
boa,  was  sitting  In  the  front  seat,  while  the  Governor 
himself  lurked  modestly  behind  the  curtain  with  only 
his   hands  visible;   the   orchestra  was   a   long  time 

The  Lady  with  the  Dog  21 

tuning  up;  the  stage  curtain  swayed.  All  the  time 
the  audience  were  coming  in  and  taking  their  seats 
Gurov  looked  at  them  eagerly. 

Anna  Sereeyevna,  too,  c^mQ  In.  She  sat  down  In 
the  third  row,  and  when  Gurov  looked  at  her  his 
heart  contracted,  nnd  he  understood  clearly  that  for 
him  there  was  in  the  whole  vvorid  no  creature  so 
near,  so  precious,  and  so  Important  to  him;  she,  this 
little  woman,  In  no  Wcty  remarkable,  lost  in  a  pro- 
vincial crowd,  with  a  vulgar  lorgnette  In  her  hand, 
filled  his  who^e  life  now,  was  his  sorrow  and  his  joy, 
the  one  happiness  that  he  now  desired  for  himself, 
and  to  the  sounds  of  the  inferior  orchestra,  of  the 
wretched  provincial  violins,  he  thought  how  lovely 
she  was.     He  thought  and  dream.ed. 

A  voung  man  wnth  small  side-whiskers,  tall  and 
stooping,  came  in  with  Anna  Sergeyevna  and  sat 
down  beside  her;  he  bent  his  head  at  every  step  and 
seemed  to  be  continually  bowing.  Most  likely  this 
was  the  husband  whom  at  Yalta,  In  a  rush  of  bitter 
feeling,  she  had  called  a  flunkey.  And  there  really 
was  In  his  long  figure,  his  side-whiskers,  and  the  small 
bald  patch  on  his  head,  something  of  the  flunkey's 
obsequiousness;  his  smile  was  sugary,  and  in  nis  but- 
tonhole tnefSwas  some  badi?e  of  distinction  like  the 
number  on  a  waiter. 

During  the  first  interval  the  husband  went  away 
to  smoke;  she  remained  alone  in  her  stall.  Gurov, 
who  was  sitting  in  the  stalls,  too,  went  up  to  her  and 
said  in  a  trembling  voice,  with  a  forced  smile : 

'   Good-e\ening/' 

She  glanced  at  him  and  turned  pale,  then  glanced 

22  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

again  with  horror,  unable  to  believe  her  eyes,  and 
tightly  gripped  the  fan  and  the  lorgnette  In  her 
hands,  evidently  struggling  with  herself  not  to  faint. 
Both  were  silent.  She  was  sitting,  he  was  standing, 
frigntened  by  he)"  confusion  and  not  venturing  to  sit 
down  beside  her.  The  violins  and  the  flute  began 
tuning  up.  He  felt  suddenly  frightened;  It  seemed 
as  though  all  the  people  in  the  boxes  were  looking  at 
them.  She  got  up  and  went  quickly  to  the  door;  he 
followed  her,  and  both  walked  senselessly  along  pas- 
sages, and  up  and  down  stairs,  and  figures  In  legal, 
scholastic,  and  civil  service  uniforms,  all  wearing 
badges,  flitted  before  their  eyes.  [They  caught 
glimpses  of  ladies,  of  fur  coats  hanging  on  pegs; 
the  draughts  blew  on  them,  bringing  a  smell  of  stale 
tobacco.  And  Gurov,  whose  heart  was  beating  vio- 
lently, thought: 

"  Oh,  heavens !  Why  are  these  people  here  and 
this  orchestra!  .   .   ." 

And  at  that  instant  he  recalled  how  when  he  had 
seen  Anna  Sergeyevna  ofl  at  the  station  he  had 
thou8:ht  that  everything  was  over  and  they  would 
never  meet  again.  But  how  far  they  were  still  from 
the  end! 

On  the  narrow,  gloomy  staircase  over  which  was 
written  "  To  the  Amphitheatre,"  she  stopped. 

"  How  you  have  frightened  me !  "  she  said,  breath- 
ing hard,  still  pale  and  overwhelmed.  "  Oh,  how 
you  have  frightened  me !  T  am  half  dead.  Why 
have  you  come?     Why?  " 

**  But  do  understand,  Anna,  do  understand  .  .  ." 

The  Lady  with  the  Dog  23 

he  said  hastily  In  a  low  voice.  ''  I  entreat  you  to 
understand.   .  .   ." 

She  looked  at  him  with  dread,  with  entreaty,  with 
love;  she  looked  at  him  Intently,  to  keep  his  features 
more  distinctly  in  her  memory. 

"  I  am  so  unhappy,"  she  went  on,  not  heeding  him. 
"  I  have  thought  of  nothing  but  you  all  the  time;  I 
live  only  In  the  thought  of  you.  And  I  wanted  to 
forget,  to  forget  you;  but  why,  oh,  why,  have  you 

On  the  landing  above  them  two  schoolboys  were 
smoking  and  looking  down,  but  that  was  nothing  to 
Gurov;  he  drew  Anna  Sergeyevna  to  him,  and  began 
kissine  her  face,  her  cheeks,  and  her  hands. 

'*  What  are  you  doing,  what  are  you  doing!  "  she 
cried  in  horror,  pushing  him  away.  "  We  are  mad. 
Go  away  to-day;  go  away  at  once.  ...  I  beseech 
you  by  all  that  Is  sacred,  I  Implore  you.  .  .  .  There 
are  people  coming  this  way!  " 

Some  one  was  coming  up  the  stairs. 

**  You  must  go  away,"  Anna  Sergeyevna  went  on 
In  a  whisper.  "Do  you  hear,  Dmitri  Dmitrltch? 
I  will  come  and  see  you  In  Moscow.  I  have  never 
been  happy;  I  am  miserable  now,  and  I  never,  never 
shall  be  happy,  never!  Don't  make  me  suffer  still 
more!  I  swear  I'll  come  to  Moscow.  But  now  let 
us  part.  My  precious,  good,  dear  one,  we  must 

She  pressed  his  hand  and  began  rapidly  going 
downstairs,  looking  round  at  him,  and  from  her  eyes 
he  could  see  that  she  really  was  unhappy:     Gurov 

24  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

stood  for  a  little  while,  listened,  then,  when  all  sound 
had  died  away,  he  found  his  coat  and  left  the  theatre. 


And  Anna  Sergeyevna  began  coming  to  see  him  in 
Moscow.  Once  In  two  or  three  months  she  left 
S ,  telling  her  husband  that  she  was  going  to  con- 
sult a  doctor  about  an  internal  complaint  —  and  her 
husband  believed  her,  and  did  not  believe  her.  In 
Moscow  she  stayed  at  the  Slaviansky  Bazaar  hotel, 
and  at  once  sent  a  man  in  a  red  cap  to  Gurov. 
Gurov  wen^  to  see  her,  and  no  one  in  Moscow  knew 
of  it 

Once  he  was  going  to  see  her  in  this  way  on  a  win- 
ter morning  (the  messenger  had  come  the  evening 
before  when  he  was  out).  With  him  walked  his 
daughter,  whom  he  wanted  to  take  to  school:  it  was 
on  the  way.     Snow  w^as  falling  In  big  wet  flakes. 

"  It's  three  degrees  above  freezing-point,  and  yet 
it  is  snowing,"  said  Gurov  to  his  daughter.  "  The 
thaw  Is  only  on  the  surface  of  the  earth;  there  is 
quite  a  different  temperature  at  a  greater  height:  in 
the  atmosphere." 

"  And  why  are  there  no  thunderstorms  in  the 
winter,   father?  " 

He  explained  that,  too.  He  talked,  thinking  all 
the  while  that  he  was  going  to  see  her^  and  no  living 
soul  knew  of  it,  and  probably  never  would  know. 
He  had  two  lives:  one,  open,  seen  and  known  by  all 
wlio  cared  to  know,  ful)  of  relative  truth  and  of  rela- 
tive falsehood,  exactly  like  the  lives  ot  his  friends 

The  Lady  with  the  Dog  25 

and  acquaintances;  and  another  life  running  its 
course  in  secret.  And  through  some  strange,  per- 
haps accidental,  conjunction  of  circumstances,  every- 
thing that  was  essential,  of  interest  and  of  value  to 
him,  everything  in  which  he  was  sincere  and  did  not 
deceive  himself,  evervthina:  that  made  the  kernel  of 
his  life,  was  hidden  iTom  cititr  peopie;  and  alt  that 
was  taise  m  mm,  tne  snciitn  in  wnicn  ne  hid  himsell 
to  conceal  the  truth  —  such,  for  instance,  as  his  work 
in  the  bank,  his  discussions  at  the  club,  his  ''  lower 
race,"  his  presence  with  his  wife  at  anniversary  fes- 
tivities —  all  that  was  open.  And  he  judged  of 
others  by  himself,  not  believing  in  what  he  saw,  and 
always  believing  that  every  man  had  his  real,  most 
interesting  life  under  the  cover  of  secrecy  and  under 
the  cover  of  night.  All  personal  life  rested  on 
secrecy,  and  possibly  it  was  partly  on  that  account 
that  civilised  man  was  so  nervously  anxious  that 
personal  privacy  should  be  respected. 

After  leaving  his  daughter  at  school,  Gurov  went 
on  to  the  Slaviansky  Bazaar.  He  took  off  his  fur 
coat  below,  went  upstairs,  and  softly  knocked  at  the 
door.  Anna  Sergeyevna,  wearing  his  favourite  grey 
dress,  exhausted  by  the  journey  and  the  suspense, 
had  been  expecting  him  since  the  evening  before. 
She  was  pale;  she  looked  at  him,  and  did  not  smile, 
and  he  had  hardly  come  in  when  she  fell  on  his 
breast.  Their  kiss  was  slow  and  prolonged,  as 
though  they  had  not  met  for  two  years. 

"  Well,  how  are  you  getting  on  there?  "  he  asked. 
*' What  news?" 

"Wait;  ni  tell  you  directly.  ...  I  can't  talk." 

26  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

She  could  not  speak;  she  was  crying.  She  turned 
away  from  him,  and  pressed  her  handkerchief  to  her 

"  Let  her  have  her  cry  out.  I'll  sit  down  and 
wait,'*  he  thought,  and  he  sat  down  in  an  arm-chair. 

Then  he  rang  and  asked  for  tea  to  be  brought 
him,  and  while  he  drank  his  tea  she  remained  stand- 
ing at  the  window  with  her  back  to  him.  She  was 
crying  from  emotion,  from  the  miserable  conscious- 
ness that  their  life  was  so  hard  for  them;  they  could 
only  meet  in  secret,  hiding  themselves  from  people, 
like  thieves!     Was  not  their  life  shattered? 

''  Come,  do  stop !  "  he  said. 

It  was  evident  to  him  that  this  love  of  theirs  would 
not  soon  be  over,  that  he  could  not  see  the  end  of 
it.  Anna  Sergeyevna  grew  more  and  more  attached 
to  him.  She  adored  him,  and  it  was  unthinkable  to 
say  to  her  that  it  was  bound  to  have  an  end  some 
day;  besides,  she  would  not  have  believed  it! 

He  went  up  to  her  and  took  her  by  the  shoulders 
to  say  something  affectionate  and  cheering,  and  at 
that  moment  he  saw  himself  in  the  looking-glass. 

His  hair  was  already  beginning  to  turn  grey. 
And  it  seemed  strange  to  him  that  he  had  grown  so 
much  older,  so  much  plainer  during  the  last  few 
years.  The  shoulders  on  which  his  hands  rested 
were  warm  and  quivering.  He  felt  compassion  for 
this  life,  still  so  warm  and  lovely,  but  probably  al- 
ready not  far  from  beginning  to  fade  and  wither  like 
his  own.  Why  did  she  love  him  so  much?  He  al- 
ways seemed  to  women  ditteient  irom  what  he  was, 
and  they  loved  In  bun  not  himself,  but  the  man  ere- 

The  Lady  with  the  Dog  27 

ntrcl  W  their  imagination,  whom  they  had  been 
eagerly  seeking  all  thv^ir  lives;  and  afterwards,  when 
thev  noticed  their  mistake,  they  loved  him  all  the 
same.  And  not  one  of  them  had  been  happy  with 
him.  Time  passed,  he  had  made  their  acquaintance, 
got  on  with  them,  parted,  but  he  had  never  once 
loved;  it  was  anything  you  like,  but  not  love. 

And  only  now  when  his  head  ^9^$  grey  he  had 
fallen  properly,  really  in  love  —  for  the  first  time  in 
his  life. 

Anna  Sergeyevna  and  he  loved  each  other  like 
people  very  close  and  akin,  like  husband  and  wife, 
like  tender  friends;  it  seemed  to  them  that  fate  Itself 
had  meant  them  for  one  another,  and  they  rould  not 
understand  why  lie  had  a  wife  and  she  a  husband; 
and  it  was  as  though  they  were  a  pair  or  birds  of 
passage,  caught  and  forced  to  live  in  different  cages. 
They  forgave  each  other  for  what  they  were 
ashamed  of  In  their  past,  they  forgave  everything  In 
the  present,  and  felt  that  this  love  of  theirs  had 
changed  them  both. 

In  moments  of  depression  in  the  past  he  had  com- 
forted himself  with  any  arguments  that  came  into 
his  mind,  but  now  he  no  longer  cared  for  arguments ; 
he  felt  profound  compassion,  he  wanted  to  be 
sincere  and  tender.  .  .  . 

"  Don't  cry,  my  darling,'^  he  said.  "  YouVe  had 
your  cry;  that^s  enough.  .  .  .  Let  us  talk  now,  let 
us  think  of  some  plan." 

Then  they  spent  a  long  while  taking  counsel  to- 
gether, talked  of  how  to  avoid  the  necessity  for 
secrecy,  for  deception,  for  living  in  different  towns 

28^  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

and  not  seeing  each  other  for  long  at  a  time.  How 
could  they  be  free  from  this  intolerable  bondage? 

"How?  How?"  he  asked,  clutching  his  head. 

And  it  seemed  as  though  In  a  little  while  the 
solution  would  be  found,  and  then  a  new  and  splen- 
did life  would  begin;  and  it  was  clear  to  both  of 
them  that  they  had  still  a  long,  long  road  before 
them,  and  that  the  most  complicated  and  difficult 
part  of  it  was  only  just  beginning. 



The  Professor  received  a  telegram  from  the 
Lyalikovs'  factory;  he  was  asked  to  come  as  quickly 
as  possible.  The  daughter  of  some  Madame 
Lyalikov,  apparently  the  owner  of  the  factory,  was 
ill,  and  that  was  all  that  one  could  make  out  of  the 
long,  incoherent  telegram.  And  the  Professor  did 
not  go  himself,  but  sent  instead  his  assistant,  Korol- 

It  was  two  stations  from  Moscow,  and  there  was 
a  drive  of  three  miles  from  the  station.  A  carriage 
with  three  horses  had  been  sent  to  the  station  to 
meet  Korolyov;  the  coachman  wore  a  hat  with  a 
peacock/s  feather  on  it,  and  answered  every  question 
in  a  loud  voice  like  a  soldier:  "  No,  sir!  "  "  Cer- 
tainly, sir!  " 

It  was  Saturday  evening;  the  sun  was  setting,  the 
workpeople  were  coming  in  crowds  from  the  factory 
to  the  station,  and  they  bowed  to  the  carriage  in 
which  Korolyov  was  driving.  And  he  was  charmed 
with  the  evening,  the  farmhouses  and  villas  on  the 
road,  and  the  birch-trees,  and  the  quiet  atmosphere 
all  around,  when  the  fields  and  woods  and  the  sun 
seemed  preparing,  like  the  workpeople  now  on  the 
eve  of  the  holiday,  to  rest,  and  perhaps  to  pray.  .  .  . 

He  was  born  and  had  grown  up  in  Moscow;  he 
did  not  know  the  country,  and  he  had  never  taken 


32  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

any  interest  in  factories,  or  been  inside  one,  but  he 
had  happened  to  read  about  factories,  and  had  been 
in  the  houses  of  manufacturers  and  had  talked  to 
them;  and  whenever  he  saw  a  factory  far  or  near, 
he  always  thought  how  quiet  and  peaceable  it  was 
outside,  but  within  there  was  always  sure  to  be  im- 
penetrable ignorance  and  dull  egoism  on  the  side 
of  the  owners,  wearisome,  unhealthy  toil  on  the  side 
of  the  workpeople,  squabbling,  vermin,  vodka. 
And  now  when  the  workpeople  timidly  and  respect- 
fully made  way  for  the  carriage,  in  their  faces,  their 
caps,  their  walk,  he  read  physical  impurity,  drunk- 
enness, nervous  exhaustion,  bewilderment. 

They  drove  in  at  the  factory  gates.  On  each 
side  he  caught  glimpses  of  the  little  houses  of  work- 
people, of  the  faces  of  women,  of  quilts  and  linen 
on  the  railings.  "Look  out!"  shouted  the  coach- 
man, not  pulling  up  the  horses.  It  was  a  wide 
courtyard  without  grass,  with  five  immense  blocks 
of  buildings  with  tall  chimneys  a  little  distance  one 
from  another,  warehouses  and  barracks,  and  over 
everything  a  sort  of  grey  powder  as  though  from 
dust.  Here  and  there,  like  oases  in  the  desert, 
there  were  pitiful  gardens,  and  the  green  and  red 
roofs  of  the  houses  in  which  the  managers  and  clerks 
lived.  The  coachman  suddenly  pulled  up  the  horses, 
and  the  carriage  stopped  at  the  house,  which  had 
been  newly  painted  grey;  here  was  a  flower  garden, 
with  a  lilac  bush  covered  with  dust,  and  on  the 
yellow  steps  at  the  front  door  there  was  a  strong 
smell  of  paint. 

"  Please  come  in,  doctor,"  said  women's  voices 

A  Doctor's  Visit  33 

In  the  passage  and  the  entry,  and  at  the  same  time 
he  heard  sighs  and  whisperings.  *'  Pray  walk 
in.  .  .  .  We've  been  expecting  you  so  long  .  .  . 
we're  in  real  trouble.     Here,  this  way." 

Madame  Lyalikov  —  a  stout  elderly  lady  wear- 
ing a  black  silk  dress  with  fashionable  sleeves,  but, 
judging  from  her  face,  a  simple  uneducated  woman 
—  looked  at  the  doctor  in  a  flutter,  and  could  not 
bring  herself  to  hold  out  her  hand  to  him;  she  did 
not  dare.  Beside  her  stood  a  personage  with  short 
hair  and  a  pince-nez;  she  was  wearing  a  blouse  of 
many  colours,  and  was  very  thin  and  no  longer 
young.  The  servants  called  her  Christina  Dmitry- 
evna,  and  Korolyov  guessed  that  this  was  the  gov- 
erness. Probably,  as  the  person  of  most  education 
in  the  house,  she  had  been  charged  to  meet  and  re- 
ceive the  doctor,  for  she  began  immediately,  in  great 
haste,  stating  the  causes  of  the  illness,  giving  trivial 
and  tiresome  details,  but  without  saying  who  was  ill 
or  what  was  the  matter. 

The  doctor  and  the  governess  were  sitting  talk- 
ing while  the  lady  of  the  house  stood  motionless  at 
the  door,  waiting.  From  the  conversation  Korolyov 
learned  that  the  patient  was  Madame  Lyalikov's 
only  daughter  and  heiress,  a  girl  of  twenty,  called 
Liza;  she  had  been  ill  for  a  long  time,  and  had  con- 
sulted various  doctors,  and  the  previous  night  she 
had  suffered  till  morning  from  such  violent  palpita- 
tions of  the  heart,  that  no  one  in  the  house  had  slept, 
and  they  had  been  afraid  she  might  die. 

^'  She  has  been,  one  may  say,  ailing  from  a  child," 
said  Christina  Dmitryevna  in  a  sing-song  voice,  con- 

34  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

tinually  wiping  her  lips  with  her  hand.  "  The 
doctors  say  it  is  nerves;  when  she  was  a  httle  girl 
she  was  scrofulous,  and  the  doctors  drove  it  inwards, 
so  I  think  it  may  be  due  to  that." 

They  went  to  see  the  invalid.  Fully  grown  up, 
big  and  tall,  but  ugly  like  her  mother,  with  the  same 
little  eyes  and  disproportionate  breadth  of  the  lower 
part  of  the  face,  lying  with  her  hair  in  disorder, 
muffled  up  to  the  chin,  she  made  upon  Korolyov  at 
the  first  minute  the  impression  of  a  poor,  destitute 
creature,  sheltered  and  cared  for  here  out  of  charity, 
and  he  could  hardly  believe  that  this  was  the  heiress 
of  the  five  huge  buildings. 

"  I  am  the  doctor  come  to  see  you,"  said  Korol- 
yov.    "  Good   evening." 

He  mentioned  his  name  and  pressed  her  hand, 
a  large,  cold,  ugly  hand;  she  sat  up,  and,  evidently 
accustomed  to  doctors,  let  herself  be  sounded,  with- 
out showing  the  least  concern  that  her  shoulders 
and  chest  were  uncovered. 

"  I  have  palpitations  of  the  heart,"  she  said, 
"  It  was  so  awful  all  night.  ...  I  almost  died 
of  fright!     Do  give  me  something." 

"I  will,  I  will;  don't  worry  yourself." 

Korolyov  examined  her  and  shrugged  his 

"  The  heart  Is  all  right,"  he  said;  *'  it's  all  going 
on  satisfactorily;  everything  is  in  good  order. 
Your  nerves  must  have  been  playing  pranks  a  little, 
but  that's  so  common.  The  attack  is  over  by  now, 
one  must  suppose;  lie  down  and  go  to  sleep." 

At  that  moment  a  lamp  was  brought  into  the  bed- 

A  Doctor's  Visit  35 

room.  The  patient  screwed  up  her  eyes  at  the  light, 
then  suddenly  put  her  hands  to  her  head  and  broke 
into  sobs.  And  the  impression  of  a  destitute,  ugly 
creature  vanished,  and  Korolyov  no  longer  noticed 
the  little  eyes  or  the  heavy  development  of  the  lower 
part  of  the  face.  He  saw  a  soft,  suffering  expres- 
sion which  was  Intelligent  and  touching:  she  seemed 
to  him  altogether  graceful,  feminine,  and  simple; 
and  he  longed  to  soothe  her,  not  with  drugs,  not 
with  advice,  but  with  simple,  kindly  words.  Her 
mother  put  her  arms  round  her  head  and  hugged 
her.  What  despair,  what  grief  was  in  the  old 
woman's  face !  She,  her  mother,  had  reared  her 
and  brought  her  up,  spared  nothing,  and  devoted 
her  whole  life  to  having  her  daughter  taught  French, 
dancing,  music:  had  engaged  a  dozen  teachers  for 
her;  had  consulted  the  best  doctors,  kept  a  governess. 
And  now  she  could  not  make  out  the  reason  of 
these  tears,  why  there  was  all  this  misery,  she  could 
not  understand,  and  was  bewildered;  and  she  had 
a  guilty,  agitated,  despairing  expression,  as  though 
she  had  omitted  something  very  Important,  had  left 
something  undone,  had  neglected  to  call  In  some- 
body —  and  whom,  she  did  not  know. 

"  Lizanka,  you  are  crying  again  .  .  .  again,'* 
she  said,  hugging  her  daughter  to  her.  ''  My  own, 
my  darling,  my  child,  tell  me  what  It  is !  Have  pity 
on  me!     Tell  me." 

Both  wept  bitterly.  Korolyov  sat  down  on  the 
side  of  the  bed  and  took  Liza's  hand. 

"Come,  give  over;  It's  no  use  crying,"  he  said 
kindly.     *'  Why,  there  Is  nothing  in  the  world  that 

36  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

IS  worth  those  tears.  Come,  we  won't  cry;  that's 
no  good.  .  .  ." 

And  inwardly  he  thought: 

"  It's  high  time  she  was  married.   .  .  ." 

*'  Our  doctor  at  the  factory  gave  her  kahbromati," 
said  the  governess,  "  but  I  notice  it  only  makes  her 
worse.  I  should  have  thought  that  if  she  is  given 
anything  for  the  heart  it  ought  to  be  drops.  .  .  . 
I  forget  the  name.  .  .  .   Convallaria,  isn't  it?" 

And  there  followed  all  sorts  of  details.  She  in- 
terrupted the  doctor,  preventing  his  speaking,  and 
there  was  a  look  of  effort  on  her  face,  as  though 
she  supposed  that,  as  the  woman  of  most  education 
in  the  house,  she  was  duty  bound  to  keep  up  a  con- 
versation with  the  doctor,  and  on  no  other  subject 
but  medicine. 

Korolyov  felt  bored. 

*'  I  find  nothing  special  the  matter,"  he  said,  ad- 
dressing the  mother  as  he  went  out  of  the  bedroom. 
"  If  your  daughter  is  being  attended  by  the  factory 
doctor,  let  him  go  on  attending  her.  The  treat- 
ment so  far  has  been  perfectly  correct,  and  I  see  no 
reason  for  changing  your  doctor.  Why  change? 
It's  such  an  ordinary  trouble;  there's  nothing  seri- 
ously wrong." 

He  spoke  deliberately  as  he  put  on  his  gloves, 
while  Madame  Lyalikov  stood  without  moving,  and 
looked  at  him  with  her  tearful  eyes. 

"  I  have  half  an  hour  to  catch  the  ten  o'clock 
train,"  he  said.     "  I  hope  I  am  not  too  late." 

*' And  can't  you  stay?"  she  asked,  and  tears 
trickled  down  her  cheeks  again.     "  I  am  ashamed 

A  Doctor's  Visit  37 

to  trouble  you,  but  if  you  would  be  so  good.  .  .  . 
For  God's  sake,"  she  went  on  in  an  undertone,  glanc- 
ing towards  the  door,  "do  stay  to-night  with  us! 
She  is  all  I  have  .  .  .  my  only  daughter.  .  .  . 
She  frightened  me  last  night;  I  can't  get  over 
it.  ,  .  .  Don't  go  away,  for  goodness'  sake !  .  .  ." 

He  wanted  to  tell  her  that  he  had  a  great  deal 
of  work  in  Moscow,  that  his  family  were  expecting 
him  home;  it  was  disagreeable  to  him  to  spend  the 
evening  and  the  whole  night  in  a  strange  house  quite 
needlessly;  but  he  looked  at  her  face,  heaved  a  sigh, 
and  began  taking  off  his  gloves  without  a  word. 

All  the  lamps  and  candles  were  lighted  in  his 
honour  in  the  drawing-room  and  the  dining-room. 
He  sat  down  at  the  piano  and  began  turning  over 
the  music.  Then  he  looked  at  the  pictures  on  the 
walls,  at  the  portraits.  The  pictures,  oil-paintings 
in  gold  frames,  were  views  of  the  Crimea  —  a 
stormy  sea  with  a  ship,  a  Catholic  monk  with  a  wine- 
glass; they  were  all  dull,  smooth  daubs,  with  no 
trace  of  talent  in  them.  There  was  not  a  single 
good-looking  face  among  the  portraits,  nothing  but 
broad  cheekbones  and  astonished-looking  eyes. 
Lyahkov,  Liza's  father,  had  a  low  forehead  and 
a  self-satisfied  expression;  his  uniform  sat  like  a 
sack  on  his  bulky  plebeian  figure;  on  his  breast  was 
a  medal  and  a  Red  Cross  Badge.  There  was  little 
sign  of  culture,  and  the  luxury  was  senseless  and 
haphazard,  and  was  as  ill  fitting  as  that  uniform. 
The  floors  irritated  him  with  their  brilliant  polish, 
the  lustres  on  the  chandelier  irritated  him,  and  he 
was  reminded  for  some  reason  of  the  story  of  the 

38  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

merchant  who  used  to  go  to  the  baths  with  a  medal 
on  his  neck.  .  .  . 

He  heard  a  whispering  in  the  entry;  some  one  was 
softly  snoring.  And  suddenly  from  outside  came 
harsh,  abrupt,  metallic  sounds,  such  as  Korolyov 
had  never  heard  before,  and  which  he  did  not  under- 
stand now;  they  roused  strange,  unpleasant  echoes 
in  his  soul. 

*'  I  believe  nothing  would  induce  me  to  remain 
here  to  live  .  .  ."  he  thought,  and  went  back  to  the 
music-books  again. 

''  Doctor,  please  come  to  supper!  "  the  governess 
called  him  in  a  low  voice. 

He  went  into  supper.  The  table  was  large  and 
laid  with  a  vast  number  of  dishes  and  wines,  but 
there  were  only  two  to  supper:  himself  and  Chris- 
tina Dmitryevna.  She  drank  Madeira,  ate  rapidly, 
and  talked,  looking  at  him  through  her  pince-nez 

"  Our  workpeople  are  very  contented.  We  hav^ 
performances  at  the  factory  every  winter;  the  work- 
people act  themselves.  They  have  lectures  with  a 
magic  lantern,  a  splendid  tea-room,  and  everything 
they  want.  They  are  very  much  attached  to  us, 
and  when  they  heard  that  Lizanka  was  worse  they 
had  a  service  sung  for  her.  Though  they  have  no 
education,  they  have  their  feelings,  too." 

^*  It  looks  as  though  you  have  no  man  in  the  house 
at  all,"  said  Korolyov. 

"  Not  one.  Pyotr  Nikanoritch  died  a  year  and 
a  half  ago,  and  left  us  alone.  And  so  there  are 
the  three  of  us.  In  the  summer  we  live  here,  and 
in  winter  we  live  in  Moscow,  in  Polianka.     I  have 

A  Doctor's  Visit  39 

been  living  with  them  for  eleven  years  —  as  one  of 
the  family." 

At  supper  they  served  sterlet,  chicken  rissoles, 
and  stewed  fruit;  the  wines  were  expensive  French 

"  Please  don't  stand  on  ceremony,  doctor,"  said 
Christina  Dmitryevna,  eating  and  wiping  her  mouth 
with  her  fist,  and  it  was  evident  she  found  her  life 
here  exceedingly  pleasant.  *'  Please  have  some 

After  supper  the  doctor  was  shown  to  his  room, 
where  a  bed  had  been  made  up  for  him,  but  he 
did  not  feel  sleepy.  The  room  was  stuffy  and  it 
smelt  of  paint;  he  put  on  his  coat  and  went  out. 

It  was  cool  in  the  open  air;  there  was  already 
a  glimmer  of  dawn,  and  all  the  five  blocks  of  build- 
ings, with  their  tall  chimneys,  barracks,  and  ware- 
houses, were  distinctly  outlined  against  the  damp 
air.  As  it  was  a  holiday,  they  were  not  working, 
and  the  windows  were  dark,  and  in  only  one  of  the 
buildings  was  there  a  furnace  burning;  two  windows 
were  crimson,  and  fire  mixed  with  smoke  came  from 
time  to  time  from  the  chimney.  Far  away  beyond 
the  yard  the  frogs  were  croaking  and  the  night- 
ingales singing. 

Looking  at  the  factory  buildings  and  the  bar- 
racks, where  the  workpeople  were  asleep,  he  thought 
again  what  he  always  thought  when  he  saw  a  fac- 
tory. They  may  have  performances  for  the  work- 
people, magic  lanterns,  factory  doctors,  and  im- 
provements of  all  sorts,  but,  all  the  same,  the 
workpeople  he  had  met  that  day  on  his  way  from 

40  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

the  station  did  not  look  in  any  way  different  from 
those  he  had  known  long  ago  in  his  childhood,  be- 
fore there  were  factory  performances  and  improve- 
ments. As  a  doctor  accustomed  to  judging  correctly 
of  chronic  complaints,  the  radical  cause  of  which 
was  Incomprehensible  and  incurable,  he  looked  upon 
factories  as  something  baffling,  the  cause  of  which 
also  was  obscure  and  not  removable,  and  all  the 
improvements  in  the  life  of  the  factory  hands  he 
looked  upon  not  as  superfluous,  but  as  comparable 
with  the  treatment  of  incurable  illnesses. 

*' There  is  something  baffling  in  it,  of  course  .  .  ." 
he  thought,  looking  at  the  crimson  windows. 
"  Fifteen  hundred  or  two  thousand  workpeople  are 
working  without  rest  in  unhealthy  surroundings, 
making  bad  cotton  goods,  living  on  the  verge  of 
starvation,  and  only  waking  from  this  nightmare  at 
rare  intervals  in  the  tavern;  a  hundred  people  act 
as  overseers,  and  the  whole  life  of  that  hundred 
is  spent  in  imposing  fines,  in  abuse,  in  injustice,  and 
only  two  or  three  so-called  owners  enjoy  the  profits, 
though  they  don't  work  at  all,  and  despise  the 
wretched  cotton.  But  what  are  the  profits,  and  how 
do  they  enjoy  them?  Madame  Lyalikov  and  her 
daughter  are  unhappy  —  it  makes  one  wretched  to 
look  at  them;  the  only  one  who  enjoys  her  life  is 
Christina  Dmitryevna,  a  stupid,  middle-aged  maiden 
lady  in  pince-nez.  And  so  it  appears  that  all  these 
five  blocks  of  buildings  are  at  work,  and  inferior 
cotton  is  sold  In  the  Eastern  markets,  simply  that 
Christina  Dmitryevna  may  eat  sterlet  and  drink 

A  Doctor's  Visit  41 

Suddenly  there  came  a  strange  noise,  the  same 
sound  Korolyov  had  heard  before  supper.  Some 
one  was  striking  on  a  sheet  of  metal  near  one  of 
the  buildings;  he  struck  a  note,  and  then  at  once 
checked  the  vibrations,  so  that  short,  abrupt,  dis- 
cordant sounds  were  produced,  rather  like  "  Dair 
.  .  .  daIr  .  .  .  dair.  .  .  ."  Then  there  was  half 
a  minute  of  stillness,  and  from  another  building  there 
came  sounds  equally  abrupt  and  unpleasant,  lower 
bass  notes:  "  Drin  .  .  ..drin  .  .  .  drin.  .  .  ." 
Eleven  times.  Evidently  It  was  the  watchman  strik- 
ing the  hour. 

Near  the  third  building  he  heard:  "  Zhuk  .  .  . 
zhuk  .  .  .  zhuk.  .  .  ."  And  so  near  all  the  build- 
ings, and  then  behind  the  barracks  and  beyond  the 
gates.  And  In  the  stillness  of  the  night  it  seemed 
as  though  these  sounds  were  uttered  by  a  monster 
with  crimson  eyes  —  the  devil  himself,  who  con- 
trolled the  owners  and  the  work-people  alike,  and 
was  deceiving  both. 

Korolyov  went  out  of  the  yard  into  the  open 

"  Who  goes  there?  "  some  one  called  to  him  at  the 
gates  in  an  abrupt  voice. 

"  It's  just  like  being  in  prison,"  he  thought,  and 
made  no  answer. 

Here  the  nightingales  and  the  frogs  could  be 
heard  nore  distinctly,  and  one  could  feel  it  was  a 
night  in  May.  From  the  station  came  the  noise 
of  a  train;  somewhere  in  the  distance  drowsy  cocks 
were  crowing;  but,  all  the  same,  the  night  was  still, 
the  world  was  sleeping  tranquilly.     In  a  field  not 

42  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

far  from  the  factory  there  could  be  seen  the  frame- 
work of  a  house  and  heaps  of  building  material: 
Korolyov  sat  down  on  the  planks  and  went  on  think- 

"The  only  person  who  feels  happy  here  Is  the 
governess,  and  the  factory  hands  are  working  for 
her  gratification.  But  that's  only  apparent:  she 
is  only  the  figurehead.  The  real  person,  for  whom 
everything  Is  being  done,  is  the  devil." 

And  he  thought  about  the  devil,  in  whom  he  did 
not  believe,  and  he  looked  round  at  the  two  windows 
where  the  fires  were  gleaming.  It  seemed  to  him 
that  out  of  those  crimson  eyes  the  devil  himself  was 
looking  at  him  —  that  unknown  force  that  had 
created  the  mutual  relation  of  the  strong  and  the 
weak,  that  coarse  blunder  which  one  could  never 
correct.  The  strong  must  hinder  the  weak  from 
living  —  such  was  the  law  of  Nature;  but  only  in 
a  newspaper  article  or  in  a  school  book  was  that 
Intelligible  and  easily  accepted.  In  the  hotchpotch 
which  was  everyday  life,  in  the  tangle  of  trivialities 
out  of  which  human  relations  were  woven,  it  was  no 
longer  a  law,  but  a  logical  absurdity,  when  the 
strong  and  the  weak  were  both  equally  victims  of 
their  mutual  relations,  unwillingly  submitting  to 
some  directing  force,  unknown,  standing  outside 
life,  apart  from  man. 

So  thought  Korolyov,  sitting  on  the  planks,  and 
little  by  little  he  was  possessed  by  a  feeling  that 
this  unknown  and  mysterious  force  was  really  close 
by  and  looking  at  him.  Meanwhile  the  east  was 
growing  paler,  time  passed  rapidly;  when  there  was 

A  Doctor's  Visit  43 

not  a  soul  anywhere  near,  as  though  everything  were 
dead,  the  five  buildings  and  their  chimneys  against 
the  grey  background  of  the  dawn  had  a  peculiar 
look  —  not  the  same  as  by  day;  one  forgot  alto- 
gether that  Inside  there  were  steam  motors,  electric- 
ity, telephones,  and  kept  thinking  of  lake-dwellings, 
of  the  Stone  Age,  feeling  the  presence  of  a  crude, 
unconscious  force.  .  .   . 

And  again  there  came  the  sound:  "  Dair  .  .  . 
dair  .  .  .  dair  .  .  .  dair  .  .  ."  twelve  times. 
Then  there  was  stillness,  stillness  for  half  a  minute, 
and  at  the  other  end  of  the  yard  there  rang  out. 

"  Drin  .  .   .  drin  .  .   .  drin.  .  .   .'* 

*'  Horribly  disagreeable,"  thought  Korolyov. 

"  Zhuk  .  .  .  zhuk  .  .  ."  there  resounded  from 
a  third  place,  abruptly,  sharply,  as  though  with 
annoyance  —  "  Zhuk  .  .  .  zhuk.   .  .  ." 

And  it  took  four  minutes  to  strike  twelve.  Then 
there  was  a  hush;  and  again  it  seemed  as  though 
everything  were  dead. 

Korolyov  sat  a  little  longer,  then  went  to  the 
house,  but  sat  up  for  a  good  while  longer.  In  the 
adjoining  rooms  there  w^as  whispering,  there  was  a 
sound  of  shuffling  slippers  and  bare  feet. 

"  Is  she  having  another  attack?  "  thought 

He  went  out  to  have  a  look  at  the  patient.  By 
now  It  was  quite  light  In  the  rooms,  and  a  faint 
glimmer  of  sunlight,  piercing  through  the  morning 
mist,  quivered  on  the  floor  and  on  the  wall  of  the 
drawing-room.  The  door  of  Liza's  room  was 
open,  and  she  was  sitting  in  a  low  chair  beside  her 

44  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

bed,  with  her  hair  down,  wearing  a  dressing-gown 
and  wrapped  In  a  shawl.  The  blinds  were  down 
on  the  windows. 

"How  do  you  feel?"  asked  Korolyov. 

"  Thank  you." 

He  touched  her  pulse,  then  straightened  her  hair, 
that  had  fallen  over  her  forehead. 

"  You  are  not  asleep,"  he  said.  "  It's  beautiful 
weather  outside.  It's  spring.  The  nightingales 
are  singing,  and  you  sit  In  the  dark  and  think  of 

She  listened  and  looked  into  his  face;  her  eyes 
were  sorrowful  and  Intelligent,  and  It  was  evident 
she  wanted  to  say  something  to  him. 

"  Does  this  happen  to  you  often?  "  he  said. 

She  moved  her  lips,  and  answered: 

"  Often,  I  feel  wretched  almost  every  night." 

At  that  moment  the  watchman  In  the  yard  began 
striking  two  o'clock.  They  heard:  "  Dair  .  .  . 
dair  .  .   ."  and  she  shuddered. 

"  Do  those  knocklngs  worry  you?  "  he  asked. 

*'  I  don't  know.  Everything  here  worries  me," 
she  answered,  and  pondered.  "  Everything  worries 
me.  I  hear  sympathy  In  your  voice;  It  seemed  to 
me  as  soon  as  I  saw  you  that  I  could  tell  you  all 
about  It." 

"  Tell  me,  I  beg  you." 

"  I  want  to  tell  you  of  my  opinion.  It  seems  to 
me  that  I  have  no  Illness,  but  that  I  am  weary  and 
frightened,  because  It  is  bound  to  be  so  and  cannot 
be  otherwise.  Even  the  healthiest  person  can't 
help  being  uneasy  If,  for  Instance,  a  robber  is  moving 

A  Doctor's  Visit  45 

about  under  his  window.  I  am  constantly  being 
doctored,"  she  went  on,  looking  at  her  knees,  and 
she  gave  a  shy  smile.  "  I  am  very  grateful,  of 
course,  and  I  do  not  deny  that  the  treatment  is  a 
benefit;  but  I  should  like  to  talk,  not  with  a  doctor, 
but  with  some  Intimate  friend  who  would  understand 
me  and  would  convince  me  that  I  was  right  or 

"  Have  you  no  friends?  "  asked  Korolyov. 

"  I  am  lonely.  I  have  a  mother;  I  love  her,  but, 
all  the  same,  I  am  lonely.  That's  how  It  happens 
to  be.  .  .  .  Lonely  people  read  a  great  deal,  but 
say  little  and  hear  little.  Life  for  them  Is  mysteri- 
ous; they  are  mystics  and  often  see  the  devil  where 
he  Is  not.  Lermontov's  Tamara  was  lonely  and  she 
saw  the  devil." 

"  Do  you  read  a  great  deal?  " 

*'  Yes.  You  see,  my  whole  time  is  free  from 
morning  till  night.  I  read  by  day,  and  by  night  my 
head  Is  empty;  instead  of  thoughts  there  are  shadows 
in  it." 

"Do  you  see  anything  at  night?"  asked  Korol- 

"  No,  but  I  feel.  .  .  ." 

She  smiled  again,  raised  her  eyes  to  the  doctor, 
and  looked  at  him  so  sorrowfully,  so  Intelligently;  and 
it  seemed  to  him  that  she  trusted  him,  and  that  she 
wanted  to  speak  frankly  to  him,  and  that  she  thought 
the  same  as  he  did.  But  she  was  silent,  perhaps 
waiting  for  him  to  speak. 

And  he  knew  what  to  say  to  her.  It  was  clear 
to  him  that  she  needed  as  quickly  as  possible  to  give 

46  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

up  the  five  buildings  and  the  million  if  she  had  it  — 
to  leave  that  devil  that  looked  out  at  night;  it  was 
clear  to  him,  too,  that  she  thought  so  herself,  and 
was  only  waiting  for  some  one  she  trusted  to  confirm 

But  he  did  not  know  how  to  say  it.  How? 
One  is  shy  of  asking  men  under  sentence  what  they 
have  been  sentenced  for;  and  in  the  same  way  it 
is  awkward  to  ask  very  rich  people  what  they  want 
so  much  money  for,  why  they  make  such  a  poor  use 
of  their  wealth,  why  they  don't  give  it  up,  even 
when  they  see  in  it  their  unhappiness;  and  if  they 
begin  a  conversation  about  it  themselves,  it  is  usually 
embarrassing,   awkward,   and  long. 

"How  is  one  to  say  it?"  Korolyov  wondered. 
"And  is  it  necessary  to  speak?" 

And  he  said  what  he  meant  in  a  roundabout  way: 

"  You  In  the  position  of  a  factory  owner  and  a 
wealthy  heiress  are  dissatisfied;  you  don't  believe 
In  your  right  to  it;  and  here  now  you  can't  sleep. 
That,  of  course,  is  better  than  if  you  were  satisfied, 
slept  soundly,  and  thought  everything  was  satis- 
factory. Your  sleeplessness  does  you  credit;  in  any 
case,  It  is  a  good  sign.  In  reality,  such  a  conversa- 
tion as  this  between  us  now  would  have  been  un- 
thinkable for  our  parents.  At  night  they  did  not 
talk,  but  slept  sound;  we,  our  generation,  sleep 
badly,  are  restless,  but  talk  a  great  deal,  and  are 
always  trying  to  settle  whether  we  are  right  or  not. 
For  our  children  or  grandchildren  that  question  — 
whether  they  are  right  or  not  —  will  have  been 
settled.     Things  will  be  clearer  for  them  than  for 

A  Doctor's  Visit  47 

us.  Life  will  be  good  In  fifty  years'  time;  It's  only 
a  pity  we  shall  not  last  out  till  then.  It  would  be 
interesting  to  have  a  peep  at  It." 

"  What  will  our  children  and  grandchildren  do?  " 
asked  Liza. 

"  I  don't  know.  ...  I  suppose  they  will  throw 
It  all  up  and  go  away." 

"Go  where?" 

"Where?  .  .  .  Why,  where  they  like,"  said 
Korolyov;  and  he  laughed.  "There  are  lots  of 
places  a  good,  Intelligent  person  can  go  to." 

He  glanced  at  his  watch. 

"  The  sun  has  risen,  though,"  he  said.  "  It  Is 
time  you  were  asleep.  Undress  and  sleep  soundly. 
Very  glad  to  have  made  your  acquaintance,"  he  went 
on,  pressing  her  hand.  "  You  are  a  good,  inter- 
esting woman.     Good-night!" 

He  went  to  his  room  and  went  to  bed. 

In  the  morning  when  the  carriage  was  brought 
round  they  all  came  out  on  to  the  steps  to  see  him 
off.  Liza,  pale  and  exhausted,  was  in  a  white  dress 
as  though  for  a  holiday,  with  a  flower  In  her  hair; 
she  looked  at  him,  as  yesterday,  sorrowfully  and  In- 
telligently, smiled  and  talked,  and  all  with  an  ex- 
pression as  though  she  wanted  to  tell  him  something 
special,  Important  —  him  alone.  They  could  hear 
the  larks  trilling  and  the  church  bells  pealing.  The 
windows  in  the  factory  buildings  were  sparkling 
gaily,  and,  driving  across  the  yard  and  afterwards 
along  the  road  to  the  station,  Korolyov  thought 
neither  of  the  workpeople  nor  of  lake  dwellings,  nor 
of  the  devil,  but  thought  of  the  time,  perhaps  close 

48  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

at  hand,  when  life  would  be  as  bright  and  joyous 
as  that  still  Sunday  morning;  and  he  thought  how 
pleasant  it  was  on  such  a  morning  in  the  spring  to 
drive  with  three  horses  in  a  good  carriage,  and 
to  bask  in  the  sunshine. 




Mashenka  Pavletsky,  a  young  girl  who  had 
only  just  finished  her  studies  at  a  boarding  school, 
returning  from  a  walk  to  the  house  of  the  Kush- 
kins,  with  whom  she  was  living  as  a  governess,  found 
the  household  in  a  terrible  turmoil.  |  Mihailo,  the 
porter  who  opened  the  door  to  her,  was  excited  and 
red  as  a  crab. 

Loud  voices  were  heard  from  upstairs. 

"  Madame  Kushkin  is  in  a  fit,  most  likely,  or 
else  she  has  quarrelled  with  her  husband,"  thought 

In  the  hall  and  in  the  corridor  she  met  maid- 
servants. One  of  them  was  crying.  Then  Mash- 
enka saw,  running  out  of  her  room,  the  master  of 
the  house  himself,  Nikolay  Sergeitch,  a  little  man 
with  a  flabby  face  and  a  bald  head,  though  he  was 
not  old.  He  was  red  in  the  face  and  twitching 
all  over.  He  passed  the  governess  without  notic- 
ing her,  and  throwing  up  his  arms,  exclaimed: 

"Oh,  how  horrible  it  is!  How  tactless!  How 
stupid!     How  barbarous!     Abominable!" 

Mashenka  went  into  her  room,  and  then,  for  the 
first  time  in  her  life,  it  was  her  lot  to  experience 
in  all  its  acuteness  the  feeling  that  is  so  familiar 
to  persons  in  dependent  positions,  who  eat  the  bread 
of  the  rich  and  powerful,  and  cannot  speak  their 


52  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

minds.  There  was  a  search  going  on  in  her  room. 
The  lady  of  the  house,  Fedosya  Vassilyevna,  a  stout, 
broad-shouldered,  uncouth  woman  with  thick  black 
eyebrows,  ^a  faintly  perceptible  moustache,  and  red 
hands,  who  was  exactly  like  a  plain,  illiterate  cook 
in  face  and  manners,  was  standing,  without  her  cap 
on,  at  the  table,  putting  back  into  Mashenka's  work- 
bag  balls  of  wool,  scraps  of  materials,  and  bits  of 
paper.  .  .  .  Evidently  the  governess's  arrival  took 
her  by  surprise,  since,  on  looking  round  and  seeing 
the  girl's  pale  and  astonished  face,  she  was  a  little 
taken  aback,  and  muttered: 

''  Pardon.  I  ...  I  upset  it  accidentally.  .  .  . 
My  sleeve  caught  in  it.  .  .  ." 

And  saying  something  more,  Madame  Kushkin 
rustled  her  long  skirts  and  went  out.  Mashenka 
looked  round  her  room  with  wondering  eyes,  and, 
unable  to  understand  it,  not  knowing  what  to  think, 
shrugged  her  shoulders,  and  turned  cold  with  dis- 
may. What  had  Fedosya  Vassilyevna  been  looking 
for  in  her  work-bag?  If  she  really  had,  as  she 
said,  caught  her  sleeve  in  it  and  upset  everything, 
why  had  Nikolay  Sergeitch  dashed  out  of  her  room 
so  excited  and  red  in  the  face?  Why  was  one 
drawer  of  the  table  pulled  out  a  little  way?  The 
money-box,  in  which  the  governess  put  away  ten 
kopeck  pieces  and  old  stamps,  was  open.  They  had 
opened  it,  but  did  not  know  how  to  shut  it,  though 
they  had  scratched  the  lock  all  over.  The  whatnot 
with  her  books  on  it,  the  things  on  the  table,  the  bed 
—  all  bore  fresh  traces  of  a  search.  Her  linen- 
basket,  too.     The  linen  had  been  carefully  folded, 

An  Upheaval  53 

but  It  was  not  in  the  same  order  as  Mashenka  had 
left  It  when  she  went  out.  So  the  search  had  been 
thorough,  most  thorough.  But  what  was  it  for? 
Why?  What  had  happened?  Mashenka  remem- 
bered the  excited  porter,  the  general  turmoil  which 
was  still  going  on,  the  weeping  servant-girl;  had  It 
not  all  some  connection  with  the  search  that  had 
just  been  made  in  her  room?  Was  not  she  mixed 
up  In  something  dreadful?  Mashenka  turned  pale, 
and  feeling  cold  all  over,  sank  on  to  her  linen- 

A  maid-servant  came  Into  the  room. 

*'  Liza,  you  don't  know  why  they  have  been  rum- 
maging In  my  room?  "  the  governess  asked  her. 

"  Mistress  has  lost  a  brooch  worth  two  thou- 
sand," said  Liza. 

"  Yes,  but  why  have  they  been  rummaging  In  my 
room?  " 

"  They've  been  searching  every  one,  miss. 
They've  searched  all  my  things,  too.  They  stripped 
us  all  naked  and  searched  us.  .  .. .  God  knows, 
miss,  I  never  went  near  her  TOife!-taj)k,  let  alone 
touching  the  brooch.  I  shall  say  the  same  at  the 

'*  But  .  .  .  why  have  they  been  rummaging 
here?  "  the  governess  still  wondered. 

"  A  brooch  has  been  stolen,  I  tell  you.  The  mis- 
tress has  been  rummaging  In  everything  with  her 
own  hands.  She  even  searched  Mihallo,  the  por- 
ter, herself.  It's  a  perfect  disgrace !  Nikolay 
Sergeitch  simply  looks  on  and  cackles  like  a  hen. 
But  you've  no  need  to  tremble  like  that,  miss.     Xhey 

54  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

found  nothing  here.  You've  nothing  to  be  afraid 
of  if  you  didn't  take  the  brooch." 

"  But,  Liza,  it's  vile  .  .  .  it's  insulting,"  said 
Mashenka,  breathless  with  indignation.  "  It's  so 
mean,  so  low!  What  right  had  she  to  suspect  me 
and  to  rummage  in  my  things?" 

"  You  are  living  with  strangers,  miss,"  sighed 
Liza.  "  Though  you  are  a  young  lady,  still  you 
are  ...  as  it  were  ...  a  servant.  .  .  .  It's  not 
like  living  with  your  papa  and  mamma." 

Mashenka  threw  herself  on  the  bed  and  sobbed 
bitterly.  Never  in  her  life  had  she  been  subjected 
to  such  an  outrage,  never  had  she  been  so  deeply 
insulted.  .  .  .  She,  well-educated,  refined,  the 
daughter  of  a  teacher,  was  suspected  of  theft;  she 
had  been  searched  like  a  street-walker !  She  could 
not  imagine  a  greater  insult.  And  to  this  feeling 
of  resentment  was  added  an  oppressive  dread  of 
what  would  come  next.  AH  sorts  of  absurd  ideas 
came  into  her  mind.  If  they  could  suspect  her  of 
theft,  then  they  might  arrest  her,  strip  her  naked, 
and  search  her,  then  lead  her  through  the  street  with 
an  escort  of  soldiers,  cast  her  into  a  cold,  dark  cell 
with  mice  and  woodlice,  exactly  like  the  dungeon 
in  which  Princess  Tarakanov  was  imprisoned. 
Who  would  stand  up  for  her?  Her  parents  lived 
far  away  in  the  provinces;  they  had  not  the  money 
to  come  to  her.  In  the  capital  she  was  as  solitary 
as  in  a  desert,  without  friends  or  kindred.  They 
could  do  what  they  liked  with  her. 

*'  I  will  go  to  all  the  courts  and  all  the  lawyers," 
Mashenka  thought,  trembling.     "  I  will  explain  to 

An  Upheaval  55 

them,  I  will  take  an  oath.  .  .  .  They  will  believe 
that  I  could  not  be  a  thief!  " 

Mashenka  remembered  that  under  the  sheets  in 
her  basket  she  had  some  sweetmeats,  which,  follow- 
ing the  habits  of  her  schooldays,  she  had  put  in  her 
pocket  at  dinner  and  carried  off  to  her  room.  She 
felt  hot  all  over,  and  was  ashamed  at  the  thought 
that  her  little  secret  was  known  to  the  lady  of  the 
house;  and  all  this  terror,  shame,  resentment, 
brought  on  an  attack  of  palpitation  of  the  heart, 
which  set  up  a  throbbing  in  her  temples,  in  her 
heart,  and  deep  down  in  her  stomach. 

"  Dinner  is  ready,"  the  servant  summoned  Mash- 

"Shall  I  go,  or  not?" 

Mashenka  brushed  her  hair,  wiped  her  face  with 
a  wet  towel,  and  went  into  the  dining-room.  There 
they  had  already  begun  dinner.  At  one  end  of  the 
table  sat  Fedosya  Vassilyevna  with  a  stupid,  solemn, 
serious  face;  at  the  other  end  Nikolay  Sergeitch. 
At  the  sides  there  were  the  visitors  and  the  children. 
The  dishes  were  handed  by  two  footmen  in  swallow- 
tails and  white  gloves.  Every  one  knew  that  there 
was  an  upset  in  the  house,  that  Madame  Kushkin 
was  in  trouble,  and  every  one  was  silent.  Nothing 
was  heard  but  the  sound  of  munching  and  the  rattle 
of  spoons  on  the  plates. 

The  lady  of  the  house,  herself,  was  the  first  to 

"  What  Is  the  third  course?  "  she  asked  the  foot- 
man In  a  weary,  injured  voice. 

^'  Esturgeon  a  la  russet  answered  the  footman. 

56  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

"  I  ordered  that,  Fenya,"  Nikolay  Sergeitch 
hastened  to  observe.  *'  I  wanted  some  fish.  If 
you  don't  hke  It,  ma  chere,  don't  let  them  serve  it. 
I  just  ordered  it.  .  .  ." 

Fedosya  Vassilyevna  did  not  like  dishes  that  she 
had  not  ordered  herself,  and  now  her  eyes  filled 
with  tears. 

"  Come,  don't  let  us  agitate  ourselves,"  Mami- 
kov,  her  household  doctor,  observed  in  a  honeyed 
voice,  just  touching  her  arm,  with  a  smile  as  honeyed. 
'*  We  are  nervous  enough  as  it  is.  Let  us  forget 
the  brooch!  Health  is  worth  more  than  two  thou- 
sand roubles!  " 

"  It's  not  the  two  thousand  I  regret,"  answered 
the  lady,  and  a  big  tear  rolled  down  her  cheek. 
"  It's  the  fact  itself  that  revolts  me!  I  cannot  put 
up  with  thieves  in  my  house.  I  don't  regret  it  — 
I  regret  nothing;  but  to  steal  from  me  is  such  in- 
gratitude !  That's  how  they  repay  me  for  my 
kindness.   .   .   ." 

They  all  looked  Into  their  plates,  but  Mashenka 
fancied  after  the  lady's  words  that  every  one  was 
looking  at  her.  A  lump  rose  In  her  throat;  she 
began  crying  and  put  her  handkerchief  to  her  lips. 

''  Pardon/'  she  muttered.  "  I  can't  help  it. 
My  head  aches.     I'll  go  away." 

And  she  got  up  from  the  table,  scraping  her 
chair  awkwardly,  and  went  out  quickly,  still  more 
overcome  with  confusion. 

*' It's  beyond  everything!"  said  Nikolay  Ser- 
geitch, frowning.  "  What  need  was  there  to  search 
her  room?     How  out  of  place  it  was!  " 

An  Upheaval  57 

"  I  don't  say  she  took  the  brooch,"  said  Fedosya 
Vassilyevna,  *' but  can  you  answer  for  her?  To 
tell  the  truth,  I  haven't  much  confidence  In  these 
learned  paupers." 

"  It  really  was  unsuitable,  Fenya.  .  .  .  Excuse 
me,  Fenya,  but  you've  no  kind  of  legal  right  to 
make  a  search." 

*'  I  know  nothing  about  your  laws.  All  I  know 
is  that  Fve  lost  my  brooch.  And  I  will  find  the 
brooch !  "  She  brought  her  fork  down  on  the  plate 
with  a  clatter,  and  her  eyes  flashed  angrily.  *'  And 
you  eat  your  dinner,  and  don't  Interfere  In  what 
doesn't  concern  you  !  " 

NIkolay  Sergeltch  dropped  his  eyes  mildly  and 
sighed.  Meanwhile  Mashenka,  .reaching  her  room, 
flung  herself  on  her  bed.  She  felt  now  neither 
alarm  nor  shame,  but  she  felt  an  Intense  longing  to 
go  and  slap  the  cheeks  of  this  hard,  arrogant,  dull- 
witted,  prosperous  woman. 

Lying  on  her  bed  she  breathed  Into  her  pillow 
and  dreamed  of  how  nice  it  would  be  to  go  and 
buy  the  most  expensive  brooch  and  fling  it  into  the 
face  of  this  bullying  woman.  If  only  It  were  God's 
will  that  Fedosya  Vassilyevna  should  come  to  ruin 
and  wander  about  begging,  and  should  taste  all  the 
horrors  of  poverty  and  dependence,  and  that  Mash- 
enka, whom  she  had  Insulted,  might  give  her  alms! 
Oh,  If  only  she  could  come  In  for  a  big  fortune, 
could  buy  a  carriage,  and  could  drive  noisily  past 
the  windows  so  as  to  be  envied  by  that  woman ! 

But  all  these  were  only  dreams,  in  reality  there 
was  only  one  thing  left  to   do  —  to  get   away  as 

58  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

quickly  as  possible,  not  to  stay  another  hour  hi  this 
place.  It  was  true  it  was  terrible  to  lose  her  place, 
to  go  back  to  her  parents,  who  had  nothing;  but 
what  could  she  do?  Mashenka  could  not  bear  the 
sight  of  the  lady  of  the  house  nor  of  her  little  room; 
she  felt  stifled  and  wretched  here.  She  was  so  dis- 
gusted with  Fedosya  Vassilyevna,  who  was  so 
obsessed  by  her  illnesses  and  her  supposed  aristo- 
cratic rank,  that  everything  in  the  world  seemed  to 
have  become  coarse  and  unattractive  because  this 
woman  was  living  in  It.  Mashenka  jumped  up 
from  the  bed  and  began  packing. 

"May  I  come  in?"  asked  NIkolay  Sergeitch  at 
the  door;  he  had  come  up  noiselessly  to  the  door, 
and  spoke  In  a  soft,  subdued  voice.     "  May  I?  " 

"  Come  In." 

He  came  In  and  stood  still  near  the  door.  His 
eyes  looked  dim  and  his  red  little  nose  was  shiny. 
After  dinner  he  used  to  drink  beer,  and  the  fact  was 
perceptible  In  his  walk,  in  his  feeble,  flabby  hands. 

**  What's  this?  "  hfe^o&ked,  poimtlng  to  the  basket. 

"  I  am  packing.  Forgive  me,  NIkolay  Sergeitch, 
but  I  cannot  remain  In  your  house.  I  feel  deeply  in- 
sulted by  this  search  !  " 

"  I  understand.  .  .  .  Only  you  are  w^rong  to  go. 
.  .  .  Why  should  you?  They've  searched  your 
things,  but  _you_..,  .  .  what  does  It  matter  to  you? 
You  will  Ee  none  the  worse  for  It." 

Mashenka  was  silent  and  went  on  packing.  NIko- 
lay Sergeltch^plnched  his  moustache,  as  though  won- 
dering what  he  should  say  next,  and  went  on  In  an 
ingratiating  voice : 

An  Upheaval  59 

"  I  understand,  of  course,  but  you  must  make  al- 
lowances. You  know  my  wife  is  nervous,  head- 
strong; you  mustn't  judge  her  too  harshly." 

Mashenka  did  not  speak. 

"  If  you  are  so  offended,"  Nikolay  Sergeitch  went 
on,  ''  well,  if  you  like,  I'm  ready  to  apologise.  I  ask 
your  pardon." 

Mashenka  made  no  ansv/er,  but  only  bent  low^er 
over  her  box.  This  exhausted,  irresolute  man  was 
of  absolutely  no  significance  in  the  household.  He 
stood  in  the  pitiful  position  of  a  dependent  and 
hanger-on,  even  with  the  servants,  and  his  apology 
meant  nothing  either. 

'*H'm!  .  .  .  You  say  nothing!  That's  not 
enough  for  you.  In  that  case,  I  will  apologise  for 
my  wife.  In  my  wife's  name.  .  .  .  She  behaved 
tactlessly,  I  admit  it  as  a  gentleman.  ..." 

Nikolay  Sergeitch  walked  about  the  room,  heaved 
a  sigh,  and  went  on : 

"  Then  you  want  me  to  have  it  rankling  here,  un- 
der my  heart.  .  .  .  You  want  my  conscience  to  tor- 
ment me.  .  .  ." 

*'  I  know  It's  not  your  fault,  Nikolay  Sergeitch," 
said  Mashenka,  looking  him  full  in  the  face  witH  her 
big  tear-stained  eyes.  "  Why  should  you  worry 

"  Of  course,  no.  .  .  .  But  still,  don't  you  .  .  . 
go  away.     I  entreat  you." 

Mashenka  shook  her  head.  Nikolay  Sergeitch 
stopped  at  the  window  and  drummed  on  the  pane 
with  his  finger-tips. 

"  Such  misunderstandings  are   simply  torture  to 

6o  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

me,"  he  said.  '*  Why,  do  you  want  me  to  go  down 
on  my  knees  to  you,  or  what?  Your  pride  is 
wounded,  and  here  you've  been  crying  and  packing 
up  to  go;  but  I  have  pride,  too,  and  you  do  not  spare 
it !  Or  do  you  want  me  to  tell  you  what  I  would  not 
tell  as  Confession?  Do  you?  Listen;  you  want  me 
to  tell  you  what  I  won't  tell  the  priest  on  my  death- 
bed? " 

Mashenka  made  no  answer. 

"  I  took  my  wife's  brooch,"  Nikolay  Sergeitch  said 
quickly.  *' Is  that  enough  now?  Are  you  satisfied? 
Yes,  I  .  .  .  took  it.  .  .  .  But,  of  course,  I  count  on 
your  discretion.  .  .  .  For  God's  sake,  not  a  word,, 
not  half  a  hint  to  any  one  !  " 

Mashenka,  amazed  and  frightened,  went  on  pack- 
ing; she  snatched  her  things,  crumpled  them  up,  and 
thrust  them  anyhow  into  the  box  and  the  basket. 
Now,  after  this  candid  avowal  on  the  part  of  Nikolay 
Sergeitch,  she  could  not  remain  another  minute,  and 
could  not  understand  how  she  could  have  gone  on 
living  in  the  house  before. 

"  And  it's  nothing  to  wonder  at,"  Nikolay  Ser- 
geitch went  on  after  a  pause.  *'  It's  an  everyday 
story!  I  need  money,  and  she  .  .  .  won't  give  it 
to  me.  It  was  my  father's  money  that  bought  this 
house  and  everything,  you  know!  It's  all  mine,  and 
the  brooch  belonged  to  my  mother,  and  .  .  .  it's  all 
mine!  And  she  took  It,  took  possession  of  every- 
thing. ...  I  can't  go  to  law  with  her,  you'll  admit. 
...  I  beg  you  most  earnestly,  overlook  it  .  .  .  stay 
on.  Tout  comprendre,  tout  pardonner.  Will  you 

An  Upheaval  6i 

**  No !  "  said  Mashenka  resolutely,  beginning  to 
tremble.     "  Let  me  alone,  I  entreat  you !  " 

"  Well,  God  bless  you  !  "  sighed  Nikolay  Sergeltch, 
sitting  down  on  the  stool  near  the  box.  "  I  must 
own  I  like  people  who  still  can  feel  resentment,  con- 
tempt, and  so  on.  I  could  sit  here  forever  and  look 
at  your  Indignant  face.  ...  So  you  won't  stay, 
then?  I  understand.  .  .  .  It's  bound  to  be  so.  .  .  . 
Yes,  of  course.  .  .  .  It's  all  right  for  you,  but  for 
me  —  wo-o-o-o !  .  .  .  I  can't  stir  a  step  out  of  this 
cellar.  I'd  go  off  to  one  of  our  estates,  but  In  every 
one  of  them  there  are  some  of  my  wife's  rascals  .  .  . 
stewards,  experts,  damn  them  all !  They  mortgage 
and  remortgage.  .  .  .  You  mustn't  catch  fish,  must 
keep  off  the  grass,  mustn't  break  the  trees." 

"  Nikolay  Sergeltch  I  "  his  wife's  voice  called  from 
the  drawing-room.     "  Agnia,  call  your  master!  " 

'*  Then  you  won't  stay?  "  asked  Nikolay  Sergeltch, 
getting  up  quickly  and  going  towards  the  door. 
*'  You  might  as  well  stay,  really.  In  the  evenings  I 
could  come  and  have  a  talk  with  you.  Eh?  Stay! 
If  you  go,  there  won't  be  a  human  face  left  In  the 
house.     It's  awful !  " 

Nikolay  Sergeltch's  pale,  exhausted  face  besought 
her,  but  Mashenka  shook  her  head,  and  with  a  wave 
of  his  hand  he  went  out. 

Half  an  hour  later  she  was  on  her  way. 




When  visitors  to  the  provincial  town  S com- 
plained of  the  dreariness  and  monotony  of  life,  the 
inhabitants  of  the  town,  as  though  defending  them- 
selves, declared  that  it  was  very  nice  in  S ,  that 

there  was  a  library,  a  theatre,  a  club;  that  they  had 
balls;  and,  finally,  that  there  were  clever,  agreeable, 
and  interesting  families  with  whom  one  could  make 
acquaintance.  And  they  used  to  point  to  the  family 
of  the  Turkins  as  the  most  highly  cultivated  and 

This  family  lived  in  their  own  house  In  tTie  prin- 
cipal street,  near  the  Governor's.  Ivan  Petrovitch 
Turkin  himself  —  a  stout,  handsome,  dark  man  with 
whiskers  —  used  to  get  up  amateur  performances 
for  benevolent  objects,  and  used  to  take  the  part  of 
an  elderly  general  and  cough  very  amusingly.  He 
knew  a  number  of  anecdotes,  charades,  proverbs,  and 
was  fond  of  being  humorous  and  witty,  and  he  al- 
ways wore  an  expression  from  which  it  was  impossi- 
ble to  tell  whether  he  were  joking  or  in  earnest.  His 
wife,  Vera  losifovna  —  a  thin,  nice-looking  lady 
who  wore  a  pince-nez  —  used  to  write  novels  and 
stories,  and  was  very  fond  of  reading  them  aloud  to 
her  visitors.     The  daughter,  Ekaterina  Ivanovna,  a 


66  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

young  girl,  used  to  play  on  the  piano.  In  short, 
every  member  of  the  family  had  a  special  talent. 
The  Turkins  welcomed  visitors,  and  good-humour- 
edly  displayed  their  talents  with  genuine  simplicity. 
Their  stone  house  was  roomy  and  cool  in  summer; 
half  of  the  windows  looked  into  a  shady  old  garden, 
where  nightingales  used  to  sing  in  the  spring.  When 
there  were  visitors  in  the  house,  there  was  a  clatter 
of  knives  in  the  kitchen  and  a  smell  of  fried  onions 
in  the  yard  —  and  that  was  always  a  sure  sign  of  a 
plentiful  and  savoury  supper  to  follow. 

And  as  soon  as  Dmitri  lonitch  Startsev  was  ap- 
pointed the  district  doctor,  and  took  up  his  abode  at 

Dyalizh,  six  miles  from  S ,  he,  too,  was  told  that 

as  a  cultivated  man  it  was  essential  for  him  to  make 
the  acquaintance  of  the  Turkins.  In  the  winter  he 
was  introduced  to  Ivan  Petrovitch  in  the  street ;  they 
talked  about  the  weather,  about  the  theatre,  about 
the  cholera;  an  invitation  followed.  On  a  holiday 
in  the  spring  —  it  was  Ascension  Day  —  after  seeing 
his  patients,  Startsev  set  off  for  town  in  search  of  a 
little  recreation  and  to  make  some  purchases.  He 
walked  in  a  leisurely  way  (he  had  not  yet  set  up  his 
carriage),  humming  all  the  time: 

"  *  Before  I'd  drunk  the  tears  from  life's  goblet.  ...''* 

In  town  he  dined,  went  for  a  walk  in  the  gardens, 
then  Ivan  Petrovitch's  invitation  came  into  his  mind, 
as  it  were  of  itself,  and  he  decided  to  call  on  the 
Turkins  and  see  what  sort  of  people  they  were. 

"How  do  you  do,  if  you  please?"  said  Ivan 
Petrovitch,  meeting  him  on  the  steps.     ''  Delighted, 

lonitch  67 

delighted  to  see  such  an  agreeable  visitor.  Come 
along;  I  will  introduce  you  to  my  better  half.  I  tell 
him,  Verotchka,"  he  went  on,  as  he  presented  the 
doctor  to  his  wife  — ''  I  tell  him  that  he  has  no  hu- 
man right  to  sit  at  home  in  a  hospital;  he  ought  to 
devote  his  leisure  to  society.  Oughtn't  he,  dar- 

"  Sit  here,"  said  Vera  losifovna,  making  her  vis- 
itor sit  down  beside  her.  "You  can  dance  attend- 
ance on  me.  My  husband  is  jealous  —  he  is  an 
Othello ;  but  we  will  try  and  behave  so  well  that  he 
will  notice  nothing." 

"  Ah,  you  spoilt  chicken!  "  Ivan  Petrovitch  mut- 
tered tenderly,  and  he  kissed  her  on  the  forehead. 
"  You  have  come  just  in  the  nick  of  time,"  he  said, 
addressing  the  doctor  again.  ''  My  better  half  has 
written  a  '  hugeous  '  novel,  and  she  is  going  to  read 
it  aloud  to-day." 

"  Petit  Jean,"  said  Vera  losifovna  to  her  husband, 
"  dites  que  Ton  nous  donne  du  the." 

Startsev  was  introduced  to  Ekaterina  Ivanovna,  a 
girl  of  eighteen,  very  much  like  her  mother,  thin  and 
pretty.  Her  expression  was  still  childish  and  her 
figure  was  soft  and  slim;  and  her  developed  girlish 
bosom,  healthy  and  beautiful,  was  suggestive  of 
spring,  real  spring. 

Then  they  drank  tea  with  jam,  honey,  and  sweet- 
meats, and  with  very  nice  cakes,  which  melted  in  the 
mouth.  As  the  evening  came  on,  other  visitors  grad- 
ually arrived,  and  Ivan  Petrovitch  fixed  his  laughing 
eyes  on  each  of  them  and  said: 

*'  How  do  you  do,  if  you  please?  " 

68  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

Then  they  all  sat  down  In  the  drawing-room  with 
very  serious  faces,  and  Vera  losifovna  read  her 
novel.  It  began  like  this:  "The  frost  was  in- 
tense. .  .  ."  The  windows  were  wide  open;  from 
the  kitchen  came  the  clatter  of  knives  and  the  smell 
of  fried  onions.  ...  It  was  comfortable  in  the  soft 
deep  arm-chair ;  the  Hghts  had  such  a  friendly  twinkle 
in  the  twilight  of  the  drawing-room,  and  at  the  mo- 
ment on  a  summer  evening  when  sounds  of  voices 
and  laughter  floated  in  from  the  street  and  whiffs  of 
lilac  from  the  yard,  it  was  difficult  to  grasp  that  the 
frost  was  intense,  and  that  the  setting  sun  was  light- 
ing with  Its  chilly  rays  a  solitary  wayfarer  on  the 
snowy  plain.  Vera  losifovna  read  how  a  beautiful 
young  countess  founded  a  school,  a  hospital,  a 
library,  In  her  village,  and  fell  in  love  with  a  wan- 
dering artist;  she  read  of  what  never  happens  In  real 
life,  and  yet  it  was  pleasant  to  listen  —  it  was  com- 
fortable, and  such  agreeable,  serene  thoughts  kept 
coming  Into  the  mind,  one  had  no  desire  to  get  up. 

"  Not  badsome  .  .  ."  Ivan  Petrovltch  said  softly. 

And  one  of  the  visitors  hearing,  with  his  thoughts 
far  away,  said  hardly  audibly: 

"  Yes  .   .  .  truly.  .  .  ." 

One  hour  passed,  another.  In  the  town  gardens 
close  by  a  band  was  playing  and  a  chorus  was  sing- 
ing. When  Vera  losifovna  shut  her  manuscript 
book,  the  company  was  silent  for  five  minutes,  listen- 
ing to  "  Lutchlna  "  being  sung  by  the  chorus,  and 
the  song  gave  what  was  not  in  the  novel  and  is  in 
real  life. 

lonitch  69 

"Do  you  publish  your  stories  In  magazines?" 
Startsev  asked  Vera  loslfovna. 

"  No,"  she  answered.  "  I  never  pubHsh.  I 
write  it  and  put  It  away  In  my  cupboard.  Why  pub- 
lish?" she  explained.  "We  have  enough  to  live 

And  for  some  reason  every  one  sighed. 

'*  And  now,  Kitten,  you  play  something,"  Ivan 
Petrovltch  said  to  his  daughter. 

The  lid  of  the  piano  was  raised  and  the  music 
lying  ready  was  opened.  Ekaterlna  Ivanovna  sat 
down  and  banged  on  the  piano  with  both  hands,  and 
then  banged  again  with  all  her  might,  and  then  again 
and  again;  her  shoulders  and  bosom  shook.  She 
obstinately  banged  on  the  same  notes,  and  it  sounded 
as  if  she  would  not  leave  off  until  she  had  hammered 
the  keys  into  the  piano.  The  drawing-room  was 
filled  with  the  din;  everything  was  resounding;  the 
floor,  the  celling,  the  furniture.  .  .  .  Ekaterlna 
Ivanovna  was  playing  a  difficult  passage.  Interesting 
simply  on  account  of  its  difficulty,  long  and  monoto- 
nous, and  Startsev,  listening,  pictured  stones  drop- 
ping down  a  steep  hill  and  going  on  dropping,  and 
he  wished  they  would  leave  off  dropping;  and  at 
the  same  time  Ekaterlna  Ivanovna,  rosy  from  the 
violent  exercise,  strong  and  vigorous,  with  a  lock 
of  hair  falling  over  her  forehead,  attracted  him  very 
much.  After  the  winter  spent  at  Dyalizh  among 
patients  and  peasants,  to  sit  in  a  drawing-room,  to 
watch  this  young,  elegant,  and,  In  all  probability, 
pure  creature,  and  to  listen  to  these  noisy,  tedious 

70  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

but  still  cultured  sounds,  was  so  pleasant,  so 
novel.  .  .  . 

"  Well,  Kitten,  you  have  played  as  never  before," 
said  Ivan  Petrovitch,  with  tears  in  his  eyes,  when 
his  daughter  had  finished  and  stood  up.  "  Die, 
Denis;  you  won't  write  anything  better." 

All  flocked  round  her,  congratulated  her,  ex- 
pressed astonishment,  declared  that  it  was  long  since 
they  had  heard  such  music,  and  she  listened  in  silence 
with  a  faint  smile,  and  her  whole  figure  was  ex- 
pressive of  triumph. 

'*  Splendid,  superb !  " 

"  Splendid,"  said  Startsev,  too,  carried  away  by 
the  general  enthusiasm.  "  Where  have  you  stud- 
ied? "  he  asked  Ekaterina  Ivanovna.  "  At  the  Con- 
servatoire? " 

"  No,  I  am  only  preparing  for  the  Conservatoire, 
and  till  now  have  been  working  with  Madame  Zav- 

"  Have  you  finished  at  the  high  school  here?  " 

"  Oh,  no,"  Vera  losifovna  answered  for  her. 
"We  have  teachers  for  her  at  home;  there  might 
be  bad  influences  at  the  high  school  or  a  boarding 
school,  you  know.  While  a  young  girl  is  growing 
up,  she  ought  to  be  under  no  influence  but  her 

"  All  the  same,  I'm  going  to  the  Conservatoire," 
said  Ekaterina  Ivanovna. 

"  No.  Kitten  loves  her  mamma.  Kitten  won't 
grieve  papa  and  mamma." 

''  No,    I'm    going,    I'm    going,"    said    Ekaterina 

lonitch  71 

Ivanovna,  with  playful  caprice  and  stamping  her 

And  at  supper  it  was  Ivan  Petrovitch  who  dis- 
played his  talents.  Laughing  only  with  his  eyes, 
he  told  anecdotes,  made  epigrams,  asked  ridiculous 
riddles  and  answered  them  himself,  talking  the 
whole  time  in  his  extraordinary  language,  evolved 
in  the  course  of  prolonged  practice  in  witticism 
and  evidently  now  become  a  habit:  *' Badsome," 
"  Hugeous,"  "  Thank  you  most  dumbly,"  and  so 

But  that  was  not  all.  When  the  guests,  replete 
and  satisfied,  trooped  into  the  hall,  looking  for  their 
coats  and  sticks,  there  bustled  about  them  the  foot- 
man Pavlusha,  or,  as  he  was  called  in  the  family, 
Pava  —  a  lad  of  fourteen  with  shaven  head  and 
chubby  cheeks. 

"Come,  Pava,  perform!"  Ivan  Petrovitch  said 
to  him. 

Pava  struck  an  attitude,  flung  up  his  arm,  and 
said  in  a  tragic  tone :     "  Unhappy  woman,  die !  " 

And  every  one  roared  with  laughter. 

''  It's  entertaining,"  thought  Startsev,  as  he  went 
out  into  the  street. 

He  went  to  a  restaurant  and  drank  some  beer, 
then  set  off  to  walk  home  to  Dyalizh;  he  walked 
all  the  way  singing: 

"  '  Thy  voice  to  me  so  languid  and  caressing.  .  .  .'  " 

On  going  to  bed,  he  felt  not  the  slightest  fatigue 
after  the  six  miles'  walk.     On  the  contrary,  he  felt 

72  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

as  though  he  could  with  pleasure  have  walked  an- 
other twenty. 

"  Not  badsome,"  he  thought,  and  laughed  as  he 
fell  asleep. 


Startsev  kept  meaning  to  go  to  the  Turkins' 
again,  but  there  was  a  great  deal  of  work  in  the 
hospital,  and  he  was  unable  to  find  free  time.  In 
this  way  more  than  a  year  passed  in  work  and  soli- 
tude. But  one  day  a  letter  in  a  light  blue  envelope 
was  brought  him  from  the  town.  .   .   . 

Vera  losifovna  had  been  suffering  for  some  time 
from  migraine,  but  now  since  Kitten  frightened  her 
every  day  by  saying  that  she  was  going  away  to  the 
Conservatoire,  the  attacks  began  to  be  more  fre- 
quent. All  the  doctors  of  the  town  had  been  at 
the  Turkins';  at  last  it  was  the  district  doctor's  turn. 
Vera  losifovna  wrote  him  a  touching  letter  in  which 
she  begged  him  to  come  and  relieve  her  sufferings. 
Startsev  went,  and  after  that  he  began  to  be  often, 
very  often  at  the  Turkins'.  .  .  .  He  really  did 
something  for  Vera  losifovna,  and  she  was  already 
telling  all  her  visitors  that  he  was  a  wonderful  and 
exceptional  doctor.  But  it  was  not  for  the  sake  of 
her  migraine  that  he  visited  the  Turkins'  now.   .   .   . 

It  was  a  holiday.  Ekaterina  Ivanovna  finished 
her  long,  wearisome  exercises  on  the  piano.  Then 
they  sat  a  long  time  in  the  dining-room,  drinking 
tea,  and  Ivan  Petrovitch  told  some  amusing  story. 
Then  there  was  a  ring  and  he  had  to  go  into  the 

lonitch  73 

hall  to  welcome  a  guest;  Startsev  took  advantage 
of  the  momentary  commotion,  and  whispered  to 
Ekaterina  Ivanovna  in  great  agitation: 

"  For  God's  sake,  I  entreat  you,  don't  torment 
me;  let  us  go  into  the  garden!  " 

She  shrugged  her  shoulders,  as  though  perplexed 
and  not  knowing  what  he  wanted  of  her,  but  she 
got  up  and  went. 

*'  You  play  the  piano  for  three  or  four  hours," 
he  said,  following  her;  "then  you  sit  with  your 
mother,  and  there  is  no  possibility  of  speaking  to 
you.  Give  me  a  quarter  of  an  hour  at  least,  I  be- 
seech you." 

Autumn  was  approaching,  and  it  was  quiet  and 
melancholy  in  the  old  garden;  the  dark  leaves  lay 
thick  in  the  walks.  It  was  already  beginning  to 
get  dark  early. 

"  I  haven't  seen  you  for  a  whole  week,"  Startsev 
went  on,  "  and  if  you  only  knew  what  suffering  it 
is !     Let  us  sit  down.     Listen  to  me." 

They  had  a  favourite  place  in  the  garden;  a  seat 
under  an  old  spreading  maple.  And  now  they  sat 
down  on  this  seat. 

"  What  do  you  want?  "  said  Ekaterina  Ivanovna 
drily,  in  a  matter-of-fact  tone. 

"  I  have  not  seen  you  for  a  whole  week;  I  have 
not  heard  you  for  so  long.  I  long  passionately, 
I  thirst  for  your  voice.     Speak." 

She  fascinated  him  by  her  freshness,  the  naive 
expression  of  her  eyes  and  cheeks.  Even  in  the  way 
her  dress  hung  on  her,  he  saw  something  extraor- 
dinarily  charming,    touching    in    its    simplicity    and 

74  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

naive  grace;  and  at  the  same  time,  in  spite  of  this 
naivete,  she  seemed  to  him  intelligent  and  developed 
beyond  her  years.  He  could  talk  with  her  about 
literature,  about  art,  about  anything  he  liked;  could 
complain  to  her  of  life,  of  people,  though  it  some- 
times happened  in  the  middle  of  serious  conversa- 
tion she  would  laugh  inappropriately  or  run  away 
into  the  house.  Like  almost  all  girls  of  her  neigh- 
bourhood, she  had  read  a  great  deal    (as  a  rule, 

people  read  very  little  in  S ,  and  at  the  lending 

library  they  said  if  it  were  not  for  the  girls  and  the 
young  Jews,  they  might  as  well  shut  up  the  library). 
This  afforded  Startsev  infinite  delight;  he  used  to 
ask  her  eagerly  every  time  what  she  had  been  read- 
ing the  last  few  days,  and  listened  enthralled  while 
she  told  him. 

"  What  have  you  been  reading  this  week  since 
I  saw  you  last?'*  he  asked  now.  "  Do  please  tell 

"  I  have  been  reading  Pisemsky.'* 

"What  exactly?" 

*'  *  A  Thousand  Souls,'  "  answered  Kitten.  "  And 
what  a  funny  name  Pisemsky  had  —  Alexey  Feo- 

'^  Where  are  you  going?"  cried  Startsev  in 
horror,  as  she  suddenly  got  up  and  walked  towards 
the  house.  "  I  must  talk  to  you;  I  want  to  explain 
myself.  .  .  .  Stay  with  me  just  five  minutes,  I 
supplicate  you !  " 

She  stopped  as  though  she  wanted  to  say  some- 
thing, then  awkwardly  thrust  a  note  into  his  hand, 
ran  home  and  sat  down  to  the  piano  again. 

lonitch  75 

"  Be  in  the  cemetery,"  Startsev  read,  "  at  eleven 
o'clock  to-night,  near  the  tomb  of  Demetti." 

"  Well,  that's  not  at  all  clever,"  he  thought, 
coming  to  himself.  "  Why  the  cemetery?  What 

It  was  clear:  Kitten  was  playing  a  prank.  Who 
would  seriously  dream  of  making  an  appointment 
at  night  In  the  cemetery  far  out  of  the  town,  when 
It  might  have  been  arranged  in  the  street  or  In  the 
town  gardens?  And  was  it  In  keeping  with  him  — 
a  district  doctor,  an  intelligent,  staid  man  —  to  be 
sighing,  receiving  notes,  to  hang  about  cemeteries, 
to  do  silly  things  that  even  schoolboys  think  ridicu- 
lous nowadays?  What  would  this  romance  lead 
to?  What  would  his  colleagues  say  when  they 
heard  of  it?  Such  were  Startsev's  reflections  as  he 
wandered  round  the  tables  at  the  club,  and  at  half- 
past  ten  he  suddenly  set  off  for  the  cemetery. 

By  now  he  had  his  own  pair  of  horses,  and  a 
coachman  called  Pantelelmon,  in  a  velvet  waist- 
coat. The  moon  was  shining.  It  was  still  warm, 
warm  as  It  is  in  autumn.  Dogs  were  howling  in 
the  suburb  near  the  slaughter-house.  Startsev  left 
his  horses  In  one  of  the  side-streets  at  the  end  of 
the  town,  and  walked  on  foot  to  the  cemetery. 

"  We  all  have  our  oddities,"  he  thought.  "  Kit- 
ten Is  odd,  too;  and  —  who  knows?  —  perhaps  she 
is  not  joking,  perhaps  she  will  come  ";  and  he  aban- 
doned himself  to  this  faint,  vain  hope,  and  It  In- 
toxicated him. 

He  walked  for  half  a  mile  through  the  fields; 
the  cemetery  showed  as  a  dark  streak  in  the  dis- 


The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

tance,  like  a  forest  or  a  big  garden.  The  wall  of 
white  stone  came  into  sight,  the  gate.  ...  In  the 
moonlight  he  could  read  on  the  gate:  "  The  hour 
Cometh."  Startsev  went  in  at  the  little  gate,  and 
before  anything  else  he  saw  the  white  crosses  and 
monuments  on  both  sides  of  the  broad  avenue,  and 
the  black  shadows  of  them  and  the  poplars;  and  for 
a  long  way  round  it  was  all  white  and  black,  and  the 
slumbering  trees  bowed  their  branches  over  the 
white  stones.  It  seemed  as  though  it  were  lighter 
here  than  in  the  fields;  the  maple-leaves  stood  out 
sharply  like  paws  on  the  yellow  sand  of  the  avenue 
and  on  the  stones,  and  the  inscriptions  on  the  tombs 
could  be  clearly  read.  For  the  first  moments  Start- 
sev was  struck  now  by  what  he  saw  for  the  first  time 
in  his  life,  and  what  he  would  probably  never  see 
again;  a  world  not  like  anything  else,  a  world  In 
which  the  moonlight  was  as  soft  and  beautiful,  as 
though  slumbering  here  in  Its  cradle,  where  there 
was  no  life,  none  whatever;  but  in  every  dark  poplar, 
in  every  tomb,  there  was  felt  the  presence  of  a  mys- 
tery that  promised  a  life  peaceful,  beautiful,  eternal. 
The  stones  and  faded  flowers,  together  with  the 
autumn  scent  of  the  leaves,  all  told  of  forgiveness, 
melancholy,  and  peace. 

All  was  silence  around;  the  stars  looked  down 
from  the  sky  in  the  profound  stillness,  and  Start- 
sev's  footsteps  sounded  loud  and  out  of  place,  and 
only  when  the  church  clock  began  striking  and  he 
imagined  himself  dead,  buried  there  for  ever,  he 
felt  as  though  some  one  were  looking  at  him,  and 
for  a  moment  he  thought  that  It  was  not  peace  and 

lonitch  77 

tranquillity,  but  stifled  despair,  the  dumb  dreariness 
of  non-existence.   .   .   . 

Demetti's  tomb  was  in  the  form  of  a  shrine  with 
an  angel  at  the  top.     The  Italian  opera  had  once 

visited  S and  one  of  the  singers  had  died;  she 

had  been  buried  here,  and  this  monument  put  up 
to  her.  No  one  in  the  town  remembered  her,  but 
the  lamp  at  the  entrance  reflected  the  moonlight,  and 
looked  as  though  it  were  burning. 

There  was  no  one,  and,  indeed,  who  would  come 
here  at  midnight?  But  Startsev  waited,  and  as 
though  the  moonlight  warmed  his  passion,  he  waited 
passionately,  and,  in  imagination,  pictured  kisses  and 
embraces.  He  sat  near  the  monument  for  half  an 
hour,  then  paced  up  and  down  the  side  avenues,  with 
his  hat  in  his  hand,  waiting  and  thinking  of  the  many 
women  and  girls  buried  in  these  tombs  who  had  been 
beautiful  and  fascinating,  who  had  loved,  at  night 
burned  with  passion,  yielding  themselves  to  caresses. 
How  wickedly  Mother  Nature  jested  at  man's  ex- 
pense, after  all!  How  humiliating  it  was  to  recog- 
nise it ! 

Startsev  thought  this,  and  at  the  same  time  he 
wanted  to  cry  out  that  he  wanted  love,  that  he  was 
eager  for  it  at  all  costs.  To  his  eyes  they  were  not 
slabs  of  marble,  but  fair  white  bodies  in  the  moon- 
light; he  saw  shapes  hiding  bashfully  in  the  shadows 
of  the  trees,  felt  their  warmth,  and  the  languor  was 
oppressive.   .   .   . 

And  as  though  a  curtain  were  lowered,  the  moon 
went  behind  a  cloud,  and  suddenly  all  was  darkness. 
Startsev  could  scarcely  find  the  gate  —  by  now  it 

78  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

was  as  dark  as  It  Is  on  an  autumn  night.  Then  he 
wandered  about  for  an  hour  and  a  half,  looking  for 
the  side-street  In  which  he  had  left  his  horses. 

''I  am  tired;  I  can  scarcely  stand  on  my  legs," 
he  said  to  Pantelelmon. 

And  settling  himself  with  relief  In  his  carriage, 
he  thought:     ''  Och!     I  ought  not  to  get  fat!  " 


The  following  evening  he  went  to  the  Turkins' 
to  make  an  offer.  But  It  turned  out  to  be  an  In- 
convenient moment,  as  Ekaterina  Ivanovna  was  In 
her  own  room  having  her  hair  done  by  a  hair-dresser. 
She  was  getting  ready  to  go  to  a  dance  at  the  club. 

He  had  to  sit  a  long  time  again  in  the  dining- 
room  drinking  tea.  Ivan  Petrovitch,  seeing  that 
his  visitor  was  bored  and  preoccupied,  drew  some 
notes  out  of  his  waistcoat  pocket,  read  a  funny  let- 
ter from  a  German  steward,  saying  that  all  the 
ironmongery  was  ruined  and  the  plasticity  was  peel- 
ing off  the  walls. 

"  I  expect  they  will  give  a  decent  dowry,"  thought 
Startsev,  listening  absent-mindedly. 

After  a  sleepless  night,  he  found  himself  in  a 
state  of  stupefaction,  as  though  he  had  been  given 
something  sweet  and  soporific  to  drink;  there  was 
fog  in  his  soul,  but  joy  and  warmth,  and  at  the  same 
time  a  sort  of  cold,  heavy  fragment  of  his  brain 
was  reflecting: 

*'  Stop  before  it  Is  too  late !  Is  she  the  match  for 
you?     She  Is  spoilt,  whimsical,  sleeps  till  two  o'clock 

lonitch  79 

in  the  afternoon,  while  you  are  a  deacon's  son,  a 
district  doctor.   .   .   ." 

"What  of  it?"   he  thought.     ''I   don't   care." 

"  Besides,  if  you  marry  her,"  the  fragment  went 
on,  "  then  her  relations  will  make  you  give  up  the 
district  work  and  live  in  the  town." 

"  After  all,"  he  thought,  "  if  it  must  be  the  town, 
the  town  it  must  be.  They  will  give  a  dowry;  we 
can  establish  ourselves  suitably." 

At  last  Ekaterina  Ivanovna  came  In,  dressed  for 
the  ball,  with  a  low  neck,  looking  fresh  and  pretty; 
and  Startsev  admired  her  so  much,  and  went  into 
such  ecstasies,  that  he  could  say  nothing,  but  simply 
stared  at  her  and  laughed. 

She  began  saying  good-bye,  and  he  —  he  had  no 
reason  for  staying  now  —  got  up,  saying  that  It  was 
time  for  him  to  go  home;  his  patients  were  waiting 
for  him. 

*'  Well,  there's  no  help  for  that,"  said  Ivan 
Petrovitch.  "  Go,  and  you  might  take  Kitten  to 
the  club  on  the  way." 

It  was  spotting  with  rain;  It  was  very  dark,  and 
they  could  only  tell  where  the  horses  were  by 
Pantelelmon's  husky  cough.  The  hood  of  the 
carriage  was  put  up. 

"  I  stand  upright;  you  lie  down  right;  he  lies  all 
right,"  said  Ivan  Petrovitch  as  he  put  his  daughter 
into  the  carriage. 

They  drove  off. 

"  I  was  at  the  cemetery  yesterday,"  Startsev  be- 
gan. *'  How  ungenerous  and  merciless  It  was  on 
your  part!  ..." 

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82  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

was  a  little  ashamed  and  his  vanity  was  wounded  — 
he  had  not  expected  a  refusal  —  and  could  not  be- 
lieve that  all  his  dreams,  his  hopes  and  yearnings, 
had  led  him  up  to  such  a  stupid  end,  just  as  in  some 
little  play  at  an  amateur  performance,  and  he  was 
sorry  for  his  feeling,  for  that  love  of  his,  so  sorry 
that  he  felt  as  though  he  could  have  burst  into  sobs 
or  have  violently  belaboured  Panteleimon's  broad 
back  with  his  umbrella. 

For  three  days  he  could  not  get  on  with  anything, 
he  could  not  eat  nor  sleep;  but  w^hen  the  news 
reached  him  that  Ekaterina  Ivanovna  had  gone 
away  to  Moscow  to  enter  the  Conservatoire,  he 
grew  calmer  and  lived  as  before. 

Afterwards,  remembering  sometimes  how  he  had 
wandered  about  the  cemetery  or  how  he  had  driven 
all  over  the  town  to  get  a  dress  suit,  he  stretched 
lazily  and  said: 

"  What  a  lot  of  trouble,  though!  " 


F^our  years  had  passed.  Startsev  already  had  a 
large  practice  in  the  town.  Every  morning  he 
hurriedly  saw  his  patients  at  Dyalizh,  then  he  drove 
in  to  see  his  town  patients.  By  now  he  drove,  not 
with  a  pair,  but  with  a  team  of  three  with  bells  on 
them,  and  he  returned  home  late  at  night.  He  had 
grown  broader  and  stouter,  and  was  not  very  fond 
of  walking,  as  he  was  somewhat  asthmatic.  And 
Panteleimon  had  grown  stout,  too,  and  the  broader 
he  grew,  the  more  mournfully  he  sighed  and  com- 

lonitch  83 

plained  of  his  hard  luck:  he  was  sick  of  driving! 
Startsev  used  to  visit  various  households  and  met 
many  people,  but  did  not  become  intimate  vi^ith  any 
one.  The  inhabitants  irritated  him  by  their  con- 
versation, their  views  of  life,  and  even  their  appear- 
ance. Experience  taught  him  by  degrees  that  while 
he  played  cards  or  lunched  with  one  of  these  people, 
the  man  was  a  peaceable,  friendly,  and  even  intelli- 
gent human  being;  that  as  soon  as  one  talked  of 
anything  not  eatable,  for  instance,  of  politics  or 
science,  he  would  be  completely  at  a  loss,  or  would 
expound  a  philosophy  so  stupid  and  ill-natured  that 
there  was  nothing  else  to  do  but  wave  one's  hand 
in  despair  and  go  away.  Even  when  Startsev  tried 
to  talk  to  liberal  citizens,  saying,  for  instance,  that 
humanity,  thank  God,  was  progressing,  and  that  one 
day  it  would  be  possible  to  dispense  with  passports 
and  capital  punishment,  the  liberal  citizen  would 
look  at  him  askance  and  ask  him  mistrustfully: 
*'  Then  any  one  could  murder  any  one  he  chose  in  the 
open  street?"  And  when,  at  tea  or  supper,  Start- 
sev observed  in  company  that  one  should  work,  and 
that  one  ought  not  to  live  without  working,  every 
one  took  this  as  a  reproach,  and  began  to  get  angry 
and  argue  aggressively.  With  all  that,  the  inhabit- 
ants did  nothing,  absolutely  nothing,  and  took  no 
interest  In  anything,  and  It  was  quite  impossible  to 
think  of  anything  to  say.  And  Startsev  avoided 
conversation,  and  confined  himself  to  eating  and 
playing  vint;  and  when  there  was  a  family  festivity 
in  some  household  and  he  was  invited  to  a  meal, 
then  he  sat  and  ate  in  silence,  looking  at  his  plate. 

84  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

And  everything  that  was  said  at  the  time  was  un- 
interesting, unjust,  and  stupid;  he  felt  irritated  and 
disturbed,  but  held  his  tongue,  and,  because  he  sat 
glumly  silent  and  looked  at  his  plate,  he  was  nick- 
named in  the  town  "  the  haughty  Pole,"  though  he 
never  had  been  a  Pole. 

All  such  entertainments  as  theatres  and  concerts 
he  declined,  but  he  played  vint  every  evening  for 
three  hours  with  enjoyment.  He  had  another  di- 
version to  which  he  took  Imperceptibly,  little  by 
little :  in  the  evening  he  would  take  out  of  his  pockets 
the  notes  he  had  gained  by  his  practice,  and  some- 
times there  were  stuffed  in  his  pockets  notes  —  yel- 
low and  green,  and  smelling  of  scent  and  vinegar  and 
incense  and  fish  oil  —  up  to  the  value  of  seventy 
roubles;  and  when  they  amounted  to  some  hundreds 
he  took  them  to  the  Mutual  Credit  Bank  and  de- 
posited the  money  there  to  his  account. 

He  was  only  twice  at  the  Turklns'  In  the  course 
of  the  four  years  after  Ekaterlna  Ivanovna  had 
gone  away,  on  each  occasion  at  the  Invitation  of 
Vera  losifovna,  who  was  still  undergoing  treatment 
for  migraine.  Every  summer  Ekaterlna  Ivanovna 
came  to  stay  with  her  parents,  but  he  did  not  once 
see  her;  It  somehow  never  happened. 

But  now  four  years  had  passed.  One  still,  warm 
morning  a  letter  was  brought  to  the  hospital.  Vera 
losifovna  wrote  to  Dmitri  lonitch  that  she  was  miss- 
ing him  very  much,  and  begged  him  to  come  and  see 
them,  and  to  relieve  her  sufferings;  and,  by  the  way, 
It  was  her  birthday.  Below  was  a  postscript:  *'  I 
join  In  mother's  request. —  K." 

lonitch  85 

Startsev  considered,  and  in  the  evening  he  went 
to  the  Turkins'. 

"How  do  you  do,  if  you  please?"  Ivan  Petro- 
vltch  met  him,  smiling  with  his  eyes  only.  '^  Bong- 

Vera  loslfovna,  white-haired  and  looking  much 
older,  shook  Startsev's  hand,  sighed  affectedly,  and 

"  You  don't  care  to  pay  attentions  to  me,  doctor. 
You  never  come  and  see  us;  I  am  too  old  for  you. 
But  now  some  one  young  has  come;  perhaps  she  will 
be  more  fortunate." 

And  Kitten?  She  had  grown  thinner,  paler,  had 
grow^n  handsomer  and  more  graceful;  but  now  she 
was  Ekaterina  Ivanovna,  not  Kitten;  she  had  lost 
the  freshness  and  look  of  childish  naivete.  And  in 
her  expression  and  manners  there  was  something 
new  —  guilty  and  diffident,  as  though  she  did  not 
feel  herself  at  home  here  in  the  Turklns'  house. 
.  "  How  many  summers,  how  many  winters!  "  she 
said,  giving  Startsev  her  hand,  and  he  could  see  that 
her  heart  was  beating  with  excitement;  and  looking 
at  him  intently  and  curiously,  she  went  on :  "  How 
much  stouter  you  are !  You  look  sunburnt  and 
more  manly,  but  on  the  whole  you  have  changed 
very  little." 

Now,  too,  he  thought  her  attractive,  very  attrac- 
tive, but  there  was  something  lacking  in  her,  or  else 
something  superfluous  —  he  could  not  himself  have 
said  exactly  what  it  was,  but  something  prevented 
him  from  feeling  as  before.  He  did  not  like  her 
pallor,  her  new  expression,  her  faint  smile,  her  voice, 

86  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

and  soon  afterwards  he  disliked  her  clothes,  too, 
the  low  chair  in  which  she  was  sitting;  he  disliked 
something  in  the  past  when  he  had  almost  married 
her.  He  thought  of  his  love,  of  the  dreams  and 
the  hopes  which  had  troubled  him  four  years  before 
—  and  he  felt  awkward. 

They  had  tea  with  cakes.  Then  Vera  losifovna 
read  aloud  a  novel;  she  read  of  things  that  never 
happen  in  real  life,  and  Startsev  listened,  looked  at 
her  handsome  grey  head,  and  waited  for  her  to 

^'  People  are  not  stupid  because  they  can't  write 
novels,  but  because  they  can't  conceal  it  when  they 
do,"  he  thought. 

"  Not  badsome,"  said  Ivan  Petrovitch. 

Then  Ekaterina  Ivanovna  played  long  and  noisily 
on  the  piano,  and  when  she  finished  she  was  pro- 
fusely thanked  and  warmly  praised. 

"  It's  a  good  thing  I  did  not  marry  her,"  thought 

She  looked  at  him,  and  evidently  expected  him  to 
ask  her  to  go  into  the  garden,  but  he  remained 

"  Let  us  have  a  talk,"  she  said,  going  up  to  him. 
*'  How  are  you  getting  on?  What  are  you  doing? 
How  are  things?  I  have  been  thinking  about  you 
all  these  days,"  she  went  on  nervously.  "  I  wanted 
to  write  to  you,  wanted  to  come  myself  to  see  you 
at  Dyalizh.  I  quite  made  up  my  mind  to  go,  but 
afterwards  I  thought  better  of  It.  God  knows  what 
your  attitude  is  towards  me  now;  I  have  been  look- 

lonitch  87 

ing  forward  to  seeing  you  to-day  with  such  emotion. 
For  goodness'  sake  let  us  go  into  the  garden." 

They  went  into  the  garden  and  sat  down  on  the 
seat  under  the  old  maple,  just  as  they  had  done  four 
years  before.     It  was  dark. 

"How  are  you  getting  on?"  asked  Ekaterina 

"Oh,  all  right;  I  am  jogging  along,"  answered 

And  he  could  think  of  nothing  more.  iThey  were 

"I  feel  so  excited!"  said  Ekaterina  Ivanovna, 
and  she  hid  her  face  in  her  hands.  "  But  don't 
pay  attention  to  it.  I  am  so  happy  to  be  at  home; 
I  am  so  glad  to  see  every  one.  I  can't  get  used  to 
it.  So  many  memories !  I  thought  we  should  talk 
without  stopping  till  morning." 

Now  he  saw  her  face  near,  her  shining  eyes,  and 
in  the  darkness  she  looked  younger  than  in  the  room, 
and  even  her  old  childish  expression  seemed  to  have 
come  back  to  her.  And  indeed  she  was  looking  at 
him  with  naive  curiosity,  as  though  she  wanted  to 
get  a  closer  view  and  understanding  of  the  man  who 
had  loved  her  so  ardently,  with  such  tenderness,  and 
so  unsuccessfully;  her  eyes  thanked  him  for  that 
love.  And  he  remembered  all  that  had  been,  every 
minute  detail;  how  he  had  wandered  about  the  ceme- 
tery, how  he  had  returned  home  in  the  morning  ex- 
hausted, and  he  suddenly  felt  sad  and  regretted  the 
past.     A  warmth  began  glowing  in  his  heart. 

"  Do  you  remember  how  I  took  you  to  the  dance 

88  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

at  the  club?  "  he  asked.  "  It  was  dark  and  rainy 
then.   .  .  ." 

The  warmth  was  glowing  now  in  his  heart,  and 
he  longed  to  talk,  to  rail  at  life.   .   .   . 

"  Ech!  "  he  said  with  a  sigh.  "  You  ask  how  I 
am  living.  How  do  we  live  here?  Why,  not  at 
all.  We  grow  old,  we  grow  stout,  we  grow  slack. 
Day  after  day  passes;  life  slips  by  without  colour, 
without  expressions,  without  thoughts.  ...  In 
the  daytime  working  for  gain,  and  in  the  evening 
the  club,  the  company  of  card-players,  alcoholic, 
raucous-voiced  gentlemen  whom  I  can't  endure. 
What  is  there  nice  in  it?  " 

^' Well,  you  have  work  —  a  noble  object  in  life. 
You  used  to  be  so  fond  of  talking  of  your  hospital. 
I  was  such  a  queer  girl  then;  I  imagined  myself  such 
a  great  pianist.  Nowadays  all  young  ladies  play 
the  piano,  and  I  played,  too,  like  everybody  else, 
and  there  was  nothing  special  about  me.  I  am  just 
such  a  pianist  as  my  mother  is  an  authoress.  And 
of  course  I  didn't  understand  you  then,  but  after- 
wards in  Moscow  I  often  thought  of  you.  I  thought 
of  no  one  but  you.  What  happiness  to  be  a  district 
doctor;  to  help  the  suffering;  to  be  serving  the  peo- 
ple !  What  happiness !  "  Ekaterina  Ivanovna  re- 
peated with  enthusiasm.  "  When  I  thought  of  you 
in  Moscow,  you  seemed  to  me  so  ideal,  so 
lofty.  .   .  ." 

Startsev  thought  of  the  notes  he  used  to  take  out 
of  his  pockets  in  the  evening  with  such  pleasure, 
and  the  glow  in  his  heart  was  quenched. 

lonitch  89 

He  got  up  to  go  Into  the  house.  She  took  his 

"  You  are  the  best  man  I've  known  In  my  life," 
she  went  on.  "  We  will  see  each  other  and  talk, 
won't  we?  Promise  me.  I  am  not  a  pianist;  I 
am  not  in  error  about  myself  now,  and  I  will  not 
play  before  you  or  talk  of  music." 

When  they  had  gone  Into  the  house,  and  when 
Startsev  saw  in  the  lampHght  her  face,  and  her 
sad,  grateful,  searching  eyes  fixed  upon  him,  he  felt 
uneasy  and  thought  again : 

"  It's  a  good  thing  I  did  not  marry  her  then." 

He  began  taking  leave. 

"  You  have  no  human  right  to  go  before  supper," 
said  Ivan  Petrovitch  as  he  saw  him  off.  "  It's  ex- 
tremely perpendicular  on  your  part.  Well,  now, 
perform !  "  he  added,  addressing  Pava  in  the  hall. 

Pava,  no  longer  a  boy,  but  a  young  man  with 
moustaches,  threw  himself  into  an  attitude,  flung  up 
his  arm,  and  said  in  a  tragic  voice: 

*'  Unhappy  woman,  die  !  " 

All  this  Irritated  Startsev.  Getting  Into  his  car- 
riage, and  looking  at  the  dark  house  and  garden 
which  had  once  been  so  precious  and  so  dear,  he 
thought  of  everything  at  once  — -  Vera  loslfovna's 
novels  and  Kitten's  noisy  playing,  and  Ivan  Petro- 
vitch's  jokes  and  Pava's  tragic  posturing,  and  thought 
if  the  most  talented  people  in  the  town  were  so  futile, 
what  must  the  town  be? 

Three  days  later  Pava  brought  a  letter  from 
Ekaterina  Ivanovna. 

90  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

*'  You  don't  come  and  see  us  — why?  "  she  wrote 
to  him.  ''  1  am  afraid  that  you  have  changed 
towards  us.  I  am  afraid,  and  I  am  terrified  at 
the  very  thought  of  it.  Reassure  me;  come  and 
tell  me  that  everything  is  well. 

"  I  must  talk  to  you. —  Your  E.  I." 

He  read  this  letter,  thought  a  moment,  and  said 
to  Pava  : 

"  Tell  them,  my  good  fellow,  that  I  can't  come 
to-day;  I  am  very  busy.  Say  I  will  come  in  three 
days  or  so." 

But  three  days  passed,  a  week  passed;  he  still  did 
not  go.  Happening  once  to  drive  past  the  Turkins' 
house,  he  thought  he  must  go  in,  if  only  for  a 
moment,  but  on  second  thoughts  .  .  .  did  not  go 

And  he  never  went  to  the  Turkins'  again. 


Several  more  years  have  passed.  Startsev  has 
grown  stouter  still,  has  grown  corpulent,  breathes 
heavily,  and  already  walks  with  his  head  thrown 
back.  When  stout  and  red  in  the  face,  he  drives 
with  his  bells  and  his  team  of  three  horses,  and 
Panteleimon,  also  stout  and  red  in  the  face  with  his 
thick  beefy  neck,  sits  on  the  box,  holding  his  arms 
stiffly  out  before  him  as  though  they  were  made  of 
wood,  and  shouts  to  those  he  meets:  "  Keep  to  the 
ri-i-ight!"  it  is  an  impressive  picture;  one  might 
think  it  was  not  a  mortal,  but  some  heathen  deity 

lonitch  .91 

In  his  chariot.  He  has  an  immense  practice  in  the 
town,  no  time  to  breathe,  and  already  has  an  estate 
and  two  houses  in  the  town,  and  he  is  looking  out 
for  a  third  more  profitable;  and  when  at  the  Mutual 
Credit  Bank  he  is  told  of  a  house  that  is  for  sale, 
he  goes  to  the  house  without  ceremony,  and,  march- 
ing through  all  the  rooms,  regardless  of  half-dressed 
w^omen  and  children  who  gaze  at  him  in  amazement 
and  alarm,  he  prods  at  the  doors  with  his  stick,  and 
says  : 

"  Is  that  the  study?  Is  that  a  bedroom?  And 
what's  here?  " 

And  as  he  does  so  he  breathes  heavily  and  wipes 
the  sweat  from  his  brow. 

He  has  a  great  deal  to  do,  but  still  he  does  not 
give  up  his  work  as  district  doctor ;  he  is  greedy  for 
gain,  and  he  tries  to  be  in  all  places  at  once.  At 
Dyalizh  and  in  the  town  he  is  called  simply 
"lonitch":  ^' Where  is  lonitch  off  to?"  or 
*'  Should  not  we  call  in  lonitch  to  a  consultation?  " 

Probably  because  his  throat  is  covered  with  rolls 
of  fat,  his  voice  has  changed;  it  has  become  thin 
and  sharp.  His  temper  has  changed,  too:  he  has 
grown  ill-humoured  and  Irritable.  When  he  sees 
his  patients  he  Is  usually  out  of  temper;  he  Impa- 
tiently taps  the  floor  with  his  stick,  and  shouts  in 
his  disagreeable  voice: 

*'  Be  so  good  as  to  confine  yourself  to  answering 
my  questions!     Don't  talk  so  much!  " 

He  Is  solitary.  He  leads  a  dreary  life;  nothing 
interests  him. 

During  all  the  years  he  had  lived  at  Dyalizh  his 

92  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

love  for  Kitten  had  been  his  one  joy,  and  probably 
his  last.  In  the  evenings  he  plays  'vint  at  the  club, 
and  then  sits  alone  at  a  big  table  and  has  supper. 
Ivan,  the  oldest  and  most  respectable  of  the  waiters, 
serves  him,  hands  him  Lafitte  No.  17,  and  every  one 
at  the  club  —  the  members  of  the  committee,  the 
cook  and  waiters  —  know  what  he  likes  and  what 
he  doesn't  like  and  do  their  very  utmost  to  satisfy 
him,  or  else  he  is  sure  to  fly  into  a  rage  and  bang 
on  the  floor  with  his  stick. 

As  he  eats  his  supper,  he  turns  round  from  time 
to  time  and  puts  in  his  spoke  in  some  conversa- 

"  What  are  you  talking  about?     Eh?     Whom?  " 

And  when  at  a  neighbouring  table  there  is  talk 
of  the  Turklns,  he  asks: 

"What  Turklns  are  you  speaking  of?  Do  you 
mean  the  people  whose  daughter  plays  on  the 
piano?  " 

That  is  all  that  can  be  said  about  him. 

And  the  Turklns?  Ivan  Petrovitch  has  grown 
no  older;  he  is  not  changed  in  the  least,  and  still 
makes  jokes  and  tells  anecdotes  as  of  old.  Vera 
loslfovna  still  reads  her  novels  aloud  to  her  visitors 
with  eagerness  and  touching  simplicity.  And  Kitten 
plays  the  piano  for  four  hours  every  day.  She  has 
grown  visibly  older,  is  constantly  ailing,  and  every 
autumn  goes  to  the  Crimea  with  her  mother.  When 
Ivan  Petrovitch  sees  them  off  at  the  station,  he  wipes 
his  tears  as  the  train  starts,  and  shouts: 

"  Good-bye,  if  you  please." 

And  he  waves  his  handkerchief. 



It  is,  as  a  rule,  after  losing  heavily  at  cards  or 
after  a  drinking-bout  when  an  attack  of  dyspepsia 
is  setting  in  that  Stepan  Stepanitch  Zhilin  wakes 
up  in  an  exceptionally  gloomy  frame  of  mind.  He 
looks  sour,  rumpled,  and  dishevelled;  there  is  an  ex- 
pression of  displeasure  on  his  grey  face,  as  though 
he  were  offended  or  disgusted  by  something.  He 
dresses  slowly,  sips  his  Vichy  water  deliberately,  and 
begins  walking  about  the  rooms. 

**  I  should  like  to  know  what  b-b-beast  comes  in 
here  and  does  not  shut  the  door!"  he  grumbles 
angrily,  wrapping  his  dressing-gown  about  him  and 
spitting  loudly.  *'  Take  away  that  paper!  Why  is 
it  lying  about  here?  We  keep  twenty  servants,  and 
the  place  is  more  untidy  than  a  pot-house.  Who 
was  that  ringing?     Who  the  devil  is  that?" 

"  That's  Anfissa,  the  midwife  who  brought  our 
Fedya  into  the  world,"  answers  his  wife. 

"  Always  hanging  about  .  .  .  these  cadging 
toadies!  " 

*^  There's  no  making  you  out,  Stepan  Stepanitch. 
You  asked  her  yourself,  and  now  you  scold." 

"  I  am  not  scolding;  I  am  speaking.  You  might 
find  something  to  do,  my  dear,  instead  of  sitting 
with  your  hands  in  your  lap  trying  to  pick  a  quarrel. 
Upon  my  word,  women  are  beyond  my  comprehen- 


96  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

sion  !  Beyond  my  comprehension  !  How  can  they 
waste  whole  days  doing  nothing?  A  man  works 
like  an  ox,  like  a  b-beast,  while  his  wife,  the  partner 
of  his  life,  sits  like  a  pretty  doll,  sits  and  does  noth- 
ing but  watch  for  an  opportunity  to  quarrel  with  her 
husband  by  way  of  diversion.  It's  time  to  drop 
these  schoolgirlish  ways,  my  dear.  You  are  not  a 
schoolgirl,  not  a  young  lady;  you  are  a  wife  and 
mother!  You  turn  away?  Aha!  It's  not  agree- 
able to  listen  to  the  bitter  truth !  " 

"  It's  strange  that  you  only  speak  the  bitter  truth 
when  your  liver  is  out  of  order." 

"That's  right;  get  up  a  scene." 

"  Have  you  been  out  late?     Or  playing  cards?  " 

"What  if  I  have?  Is  that  anybody's  business? 
Am  I  obliged  to  give  an  account  of  my  doings  to 
any  one?  It's  my  own  money  I  lose,  I  suppose? 
What  I  spend  as  well  as  what  is  spent  in  this  house 
belongs  to  me  —  me.     Do  you  hear?     To  me!  " 

And  so  on,  all  in  the  same  style.  But  at  no  other 
time  is  Stepan  Stepanitch  so  reasonable,  virtuous, 
stern  or  just  as  at  dinner,  when  all  his  household 
are  sitting  about  him.  It  usually  begins  with  the 
soup.  After  swallowing  the  first  spoonful  Zhilin 
suddenly  frowns  and  puts  down  his  spoon. 

"Damn  it  all!"  he  mutters;  "I  shall  have  to 
dine  at  a  restaurant,  I  suppose." 

"  What's  wrong? "  asks  his  wife  anxiously. 
"  Isn't  the  soup  good?" 

"  One  must  have  the  taste  of  a  pig  to  eat  hog- 
wash  like  that!  There's  too  much  salt  in  it;  it 
smells    of    dirty    rags  .  .   .  more    like    bugs    than 

The  Head  of  the  Family  97 

onions.  .  .  .  It's  simply  revolting,  Anfissa  Ivan- 
ovna,"  he  says,  addressing  the  midwife.  "  Every 
day  I  give  no  end  of  money  for  housekeeping.  .  .  . 
I  deny  myself  everything,  and  this  Is  what  they 
provide  for  my  dinner !  I  suppose  they  want  me 
to  give  up  the  office  and  go  Into  the  kitchen  to  do 
the  cooking  myself." 

"  The  soup  is  very  good  to-day,"  the  governess 
ventures  timidly. 

"  Oh,  you  think  so?  "  says  Zhilin,  looking  at  her 
angrily  from  under  his  eyelids.  "  Every  one  to  his 
taste,  of  course.  It  must  be  confessed  our  tastes 
are  very  different,  Varvara  Vassilyevna.  You,  for 
instance,  are  satisfied  with  the  behaviour  of  this 
boy"  (Zhilin  with  a  tragic  gesture  points  to  his  son 
Fedya)  ;  "you  are  delighted  with  him,  while  I  .  .  . 
I  am  disgusted.     Yes!  " 

Fedya,  a  boy  of  seven  with  a  pale,  sickly  face, 
leaves  off  eating  and  drops  his  eyes.  His  face 
grows  paler  still. 

"  Yes,  you  are  delighted,  and  I  am  disgusted. 
Which  of  us  Is  right,  I  cannot  say,  but  I  venture 
to  think  as  his  father,  I  know  my  own  son  better 
than  you  do.  Look  how  he  Is  sitting!  Is  that 
the  way  decently  brought  up  children  sit?  Sit 

Fedya  tilts  his  chin  up,  cranes  his  neck,  and 
fancies  that  he  is  holding  himself  better.  Tears 
come  into  his  eyes. 

''Eat  your  dinner!  Hold  your  spoon  properly! 
You  wait,  ril  show  you,  you  horrid  boy!  Don't 
dare  to  whimper!     Look  straight  at  me!  " 

98  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

Fedya  tries  to  look  straight  at  him,  but  his  face 
Is  quivering  and  his  eyes  fill  with  tears. 

"A-ah!  .  .  .  you  cry?  You  are  naughty  and 
then  you  cry?  Go  and  stand  In  the  corner,  you 
beast! '^ 

''  But  ...  let  him  have  his  dinner  first/'  his 
wife  Intervenes. 

"  No  dinner  for  him !  Such  bla  .  .  .  such  ras- 
cals don't  deserve  dinner !  " 

Fedya,  wincing  and  quivering  all  over,  creeps 
down  from  his  chair  and  goes  Into  the  corner. 

"  You  won't  get  of^  with  that!  "  his  parent  per- 
sists. *'  If  nobody  else  cares  to  look  after  your 
bringing  up,  so  be  it;  I  must  begin.  ...  I  won't 
let  you  be  naughty  and  cry  at  dinner,  my  lad! 
Idiot!  You  must  do  your  duty!  Do  you  under- 
stand? Do  your  duty!  Your  father  works  and 
you  must  work,  too !  No  one  must  eat  the  bread 
of  idleness !     You  must  be  a  man !     A  m-man !  " 

"  For  God's  sake,  leave  ofT,"  says  his  wife  in 
French.  "  Don't  nag  at  us  before  outsiders,  at 
least.  .  .  .  The  old  woman  is  all  ears;  and  now, 
thanks  to  her,  all  the  town  will  hear  of  It." 

*'  I  am  not  afraid  of  outsiders,"  answers  Zhilln 
in  Russian.  *'  Anfissa  Ivanovna  sees  that  I  am 
speaking  the  truth.  Why,  do  you  think  I  ought 
to  be  pleased  with  the  boy?  Do  you  know  what 
he  costs  me?  Do  you  know,  you  nasty  boy,  what 
you  cost  me?  Or  do  you  imagine  that  I  coin  money, 
that  I  get  It  for  nothing?  Don't  howl !  Hold  your 
tongue!  Do  you  hear  what  I  say?  Do  you  want 
me  to  whip  you,  you  young  rufHan?  " 

The  Head  of  tb.e:  F^^mily;;  :•. ; :  .'99 

Fedya  wails  aloud  and  begins  to  sob. 

"  This  Is  insufferable,"  says  his  mother,  getting 
up  from  the  table  and  flinging  down  her  dinner- 
napkin.  "  You  never  let  us  have  dinner  in  peace ! 
Your  bread  sticks  in  my  throat." 

And  putting  her  handkerchief  to  her  eyes,  she 
walks  out  of  the  dining-room. 

*'  Now  she  is  offended,"  grumbles  Zhilin,  with 
a  forced  smile.  *'  She's  been  spoilt.  .  .  .  That's 
how  it  is,  Anfissa  Ivanovna;  no  one  likes  to  hear 
the  truth  nowadays.  .  .  .  It's  all  my  fault,  it 

Several  minutes  of  silence  follow.  Zhilin  looks 
round  at  the  plates,  and  noticing  that  no  one  has 
yet  touched  their  soup,  heaves  a  deep  sigh,  and  stares 
at  the  flushed  and  uneasy  face  of  the  governess. 

^*  Why  don't  you  eat,  Varvara  Vassilyevna  ?  "  he 
asks.  "Offended,  I  suppose?  I  see.  .  .  .  You 
don't  like  to  be  told  the  truth.  You  must  forgive 
me,  It's  my  nature;  I  can't  be  a  hypocrite.  ...  I 
always  blurt  out  the  plain  truth  "  (a  sigh).  "  But 
I  notice  that  my  presence  is  unwelcome.  No  one 
can  eat  or  talk  while  I  am  here.  .  .  .  Well,  you 
should  have  told  me,  and  I  would  have  gone  away. 
.  .  .  I  will  go." 

Zhilin  gets  up  and  walks  with  dignity  to  the  door. 
x\s  he  passes  the  weeping  Fedya  he  stops. 

"  After  all  that  has  passed  here,  you  are  free," 
he  says  to  Fedya,  throwing  back  his  head  with  dig- 
nity. "  I  won't  meddle  In  your  bringing  up  again. 
I  wash  my  hands  of  it !  I  humbly  apologise  that 
as  a  father,  from  a  sincere  desire  for  your  welfare, 

iQpi  i/;      The  Tales  .of  Chekhov 

I  have  disturbed  you  and  your  mentors.  At  the 
same  time,  once  for  all  I  disclaim  all  responsibility 
for  your  future.  .  .  ." 

Fedya  wails  and  sobs  more  loudly  than  ever. 
Zhilin  turns  with  dignity  to  the  door  and  departs 
to  his  bedroom. 

When  he  wakes  from  his  after-dinner  nap  he  be- 
gins to  feel  the  stings  of  conscience.  He  is  ashamed 
to  face  his  wife,  his  son,  Anfissa  Ivanovna,  and  even 
feels  very  wretched  when  he  recalls  the  scene  at 
dinner,  but  his  amour-propre  is  too  much  for  him; 
he  has  not  the  manliness  to  be  frank,  and  he  goes 
on  sulking  and  grumbling. 

Waking  up  next  morning,  he  feels  in  excellent 
spirits,  and  whistles  gaily  as  he  washes.  Going  into 
the  dining-room  to  breakfast,  he  finds  there  Fedya, 
who,  at  the  sight  of  his  father,  gets  up  and  looks  at 
him  helplessly. 

"Well,  young  man?"  Zhilin  greets  him  good- 
humouredly,  sitting  down  to  the  table.  "  What 
have  you  got  to  tell  me,  young  man?  Are  you  all 
right?  Well,  come,  chubby;  give  your  father  a 

With  a  pale,  grave  face  Fedya  goes  up  to  his 
father  and  touches  his  cheek  with  his  quivering  lips, 
then  walks  away  and  sits  down  in  his  place  without 
a  word. 



Andrey  Vassilitch  Kovrin,  who  held  a  master's 
degree  at  the  University,  had  exhausted  himself, 
and  had  upset  his  nerves.  He  did  not  send  for  a 
doctor,  but  casually,  over  a  bottle  of  wine,  he  spoke 
to  a  friend  who  was  a  doctor,  and  the  latter  advised 
him  to  spend  the  spring  and  summer  in  the  country. 
Very  opportunely  a  long  letter  came  from  Tanya 
Pesotsky,  who  asked  him  to  come  and  stay  with  them 
at  Borissovka.  And  he  made  up  his  mind  that  he 
really  must  go. 

To  begin  with  —  that  was  in  April  —  he  went  to 
his  own  home,  Kovrinka,  and  there  spent  three  weeks 
in  solitude ;  then,  as  soon  as  the  roads  were  in  good 
condition,  he  set  off,  driving  in  a  carriage,  to  visit 
Pesotsky,  his  former  guardian,  who  had  brought  him 
up,  and  was  a  horticulturist  well  known  all  over 
Russia.  The  distance  from  Kovrinka  to  Borissovka 
was  reckoned  only  a  little  over  fifty  miles.  To  drive 
along  a  soft  road  in  May  in  a  comfortable  carriage 
with  springs  was  a  real  pleasure. 

Pesotsky  had  an  immense  house  with  columns  and 
lions,  off  which  the  stucco  was  peeling,  and  with  a 
footman  in  swallow-tails  at  the  entrance.  The  old 
park,  laid  out  in  the  English  style,  gloomy  and  severe, 


104  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

stretched  for  almost  three-quarters  of  a  mile  to  the 
river,  and  there  ended  in  a  steep,  precipitous  clay 
bank,  where  pines  grew  with  bare  roots  that  looked 
like  shaggy  paws;  the  water  shone  below  with  an 
unfriendly  gleam,  and  the  peewits  flew  up  with  a 
plaintive  cry,  and  there  one  always  felt  that  one  must 
sit  down  and  write  a  ballad.  But  near  the  house 
itself,  in  the  courtyard  and  orchard,  which  together 
with  the  nurseries  covered  ninety  acres,  it  was  all 
life  and  gaiety  even  in  bad  weather.  Such  marvel- 
lous roses,  lilies,  camellias;  such  tulips  of  all  possible 
shades,  from  glistening  white  to  sooty  black  —  such 
a  wealth  of  flowers,  in  fact,  Kovrin  had  never  seen 
anywhere  as  at  Pesotsky's.  It  was  only  the  begin- 
ning of  spring,  and  the  real  glory  of  the  flower-beds 
was  still  hidden  away  in  the  hot-houses.  But  even 
the  flowers  along  the  avenues,  and  here  and  there 
in  the  flower-beds,  were  enough  to  make  one  feel, 
as  one  walked  about  the  garden,  as  though  one  were 
in  a  realm  of  tender  colours,  especially  in  the  early 
morning  when  the  dew  was  glistening  on  every  petal. 

What  was  the  decorative  part  of  the  garden,  and 
what  Pesotsky  contemptuously  spoke  of  as_rubbish, 
had  at  one  time  in  his  childhood  given  Kovrin  an  im- 
pression of  fairyland. 

Every  sort  of  caprice,  of  elaborate  monstrosity 
and  mockery  at  Nature  v/as  here.  There  were 
espaliers  of  fruit-trees,  a  pear-tree  in  the  shape  of 
a  pyramidal  poplar,  spherical  oaks  and  lime-trees, 
an  apple-tree  in  the  shape  of  an  umbrella,  plum-trees 
trained  into  arches,  crests,  candelabra,  and  even  into 
the   number    1862  —  the  year  when   Pesotsky  first 

The  Black  Monk  105 

took  up  horticulture.  One  came  across,  too,  lovely, 
graceful  trees  with  strong,  straight  stems  like  palms, 
and  it  was  only  by  looking  intently  that  one  could 
recognise  these  trees  as  gooseberries  or  currants. 
But  what  made  the  garden  most  cheerful  and  gave 
it  a  lively  air,  was  the  continual  coming  and  going 
in  it,  from  early  morning  till  evening;  people  with 
wheelbarrows,  shovels,  and  watering-cans  swarmed 
round  the  trees  and  bushes,  in  the  avenues  and  the 
flower-beds,  like  ants.  .  .  . 

Kovrin  arrived  at  Pesotsky's  at  ten  o'clock  in  the 
evening.  He  found  Tanya  and  her  father,  Yegor 
Semyonitch,  in  great  anxiety.  The  clear  starlight 
sky  and  the  thermometer  foretold  a  frost  towards 
morning,  and  meanwhile  Ivan  Karlitch,  the  gardener, 
had  gone  to  the  town,  and  they  had  no  one  to  rely 
upon.  At  supper  they  talked  of  nothing  but  the 
morning  frost,  and  it  was  settled  that  Tanya  should 
not  go  to  bed,  and  between  twelve  and  one  should 
walk  through  the  garden,  and  see  that  everything 
was  done  properly,  and  Yegor  Semyonitch  should 
get  up  at  three  o'clock  or  even  earlier. 

Kovrin  sat  with  Tanya  all  the  evening,  and  after 
midnight  went  out  with  her  into  the  garden.  It  was 
cold.  There  was  a  strong  smell  of  burning  already 
in  the  garden.  In  the  big  orchard,  which  was  called 
the  commercial  garden,  and  which  brought  Yegor 
Semyonitch  several  thousand  clear  profit,  a  thick, 
black,  acrid  smoke  was  creeping  over  the  ground 
and,  curling  round  the  trees,  was  saving  those  thou- 
sands from  the  frost.  Here  the  trees  were  arranged 
as  on  a  chessboard,  in  straight  and  regular  rows  like 

]o6  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

ranks  of  soldiers,  and  this  severe  pedantic  regularity, 
and  the  fact  that  all  the  trees  were  of  the  same  size, 
and  had  tops  and  trunks  all  exactly  alike,  made  them 
look  monotonous  and  even  dreary.  Kovrin  and 
Tanya  walked  along  the  rows  where  fires  of  dung, 
straw,  and  all  sorts  of  refuse  were  smouldering,  and 
from  time  to  time  they  were  met  by  labourers  who 
wandered  in  the  smoke  like  shadows.  The  only 
trees  in  flower  were  the  cherries,  plums,  and  certain 
sorts  of  apples,  but  the  whole  garden  was  plunged 
in  smoke,  and  it  was  only  near  the  nurseries  that 
Kovrin  could  breathe  freely. 

"  Even  as  a  child  I  used  to  sneeze  from  the  smoke 
here,''  he  said,  shrugging  his  shoulders,  "  but  to  this 
day  I  don't  understand  how  smoke  can  keep  off 

"  Smoke  takes  the  place  of  clouds  when  there  are 
none  .  .  ."  answered  Tanya. 

"  And  what  do  you  want  clouds  for?  " 

**  In  overcast  and  cloudy  weather  there  is  no 

"  You  don't  say  so." 

He  laughed  and  took  her  arm.  Her  broad,  very 
earnest  face,  chilled  with  the  frost,  with  her  deli- 
cate black  eyebrows,  the  turned-up  collar  of  her  coat, 
which  prevented  her  moving  her  head  freely,  and 
the  whole  of  her  thin,  graceful  figure,  with  her  skirts 
tucked  up  on  account  of  the  dew,  touched  him. 

*' Good  heavens!  she  is  grown  up,"  he  said. 
**  When  I  went  away  from  here  last,  five  years  ago, 
you  were  still  a  child.  You  were  such  a  thin,  long- 
legged  creature,   with  your   hair   hanging  on  your 

The  Black  Monk  107 

shoulders;  you  used  to  wear  short  frocks,  and  I  used 
to  tease  you,  caUIng  you  a  heron.  .  .  .  What  time 

"Yes,  five  years!"  sighed  Tanya.  "Much 
water  has  flowed  since  then.  Tell  me,  Andryusha, 
honestly,"  she  began  eagerly,  looking  him  in  the 
face:  "  do  you  f^pl  s;f range  with  iis  now?  But  why 
do  I  ask  you?  You  are  a  man,  you  live  your  own 
interesting  life,  you  are  somebody.  .  .  .  To  grow 
apart  is  so  natural!  But  however  that  may  be, 
Andryusha,  I  want  you  to  think  of  us  as  your  people. 
We  have  a  right  to  that." 

"  I  do,  Tanya." 

"  On  your  word  of  honour?  " 

"  Yes,  on  my  word  of  honour." 

"  You  were  surprised  this  evening  that  we  have 
so  many  of  your  photographs.  You  know  my 
father  adores  you.  Sometimes  it  seems  to  me  that 
he  loves  you  more  than  he  does  me.  He  is  proud 
of  you.  You  are  a  clever,  extraordinary  man,  you 
have  made  a  brilliant  career  for  yourself,  and  he  Is 
persuaded  that  you  have  turned  out  like  this  because 
he  brought  you  up.  I  don't  try  to  prevent  him  from 
thinking  so.     Let  him." 

Dawn  was  already  beginning,  and  that  was  espe- 
cially perceptible  from  the  distinctness  with  which 
the  coils  of  smoke  and  the  tops  of  the  trees  began  to 
stand  out  in  the  air. 

"  It's  time  we  were  asleep,  though,"  said  Tanya, 
*'  and  It's  cold,  too."  She  took  his  arm.  "  Thank 
you  for  coming,  Andryusha.  We  have  only  unin- 
teresting acquaintances,  and  not  many  of  them.     We 

io8  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

have  only  the  garden,  the  garden,  the  garden,  and 
nothing  else.  Standards,  half-standards,"  she 
laughed.  ''  Aports,  Reinettes,  Borovinkas,  budded 
stocks,  grafted  stocks.  .  .  .  All,  all  our  life  has 
gone  into  the  garden.  I  never  even  dream  of  any- 
thing but  apples  and  pears.  Of  course,  it  is  very 
nice  and  useful,  but  sometimes  one  longs  for  some- 
thing else  for  variety.  I  remember  that  when  you 
used  to  come  to  us  for  the  summer  holidays,  or 
simply  a  visit,  it  always  seemed  to  be  fresher  and 
brighter  in  the  house,  as  though  the  covers  had  been 
taken  off  the  lustres  and  the  furniture.  I  was  only 
a  little  girl  then,  but  yet  I  understood  it." 

She  talked  a  long  while  and  with  great  feeling. 
For  some  reason  the  idea  came  into  his  head  that 
in  the  course  of  the  summer  he  might  grow  fond 
of  this  little,  weak,  talkative  creature,  might  be  car- 
ried away  and  fall  in  love;  in  their  position  it  was 
so  possible  and  natural!  This  thought  touched  and 
amused  him ;  he  bent  down  to  her  sweet,  preoccupied 
face  and  hummed  softly: 

"  '  Onyegin,    I    won't   conceal    it; 
I  madly  love  Tatiana.  .  .  .'  " 

By  the  time  they  reached  the  house,  Yegor  Sem- 
yonitch  had  got  up.  Kovrin  did  not  feel  sleepy;  he 
talked  to  the  old  man  and  went  to  the  garden  with 
him.  Yegor  Semyonitch  was  a  tall,  broad-shoul- 
dered, corpulent  man,  and  he  suffered  from  asthma, 
yet  he  walked  so  fast  that  it  was  hard  work  to  hurry 
after  him.  He  had  an  extremely  preoccupied  air; 
he  was  always  hurrying  somewhere,  with  an  expres- 

The  Black  Monk  109 

slon  that  suggested  that  if  he  were  one  minute  late 
all  would  be  ruined ! 

"  Here  is  a  business,  brother  .  .  ."  he  began, 
standing  still  to  take  breath.  **  On  the  surface  of 
the  ground,  as  you  see,  is  frost;  but  if  you  raise  the 
thermometer  on  a  stick  fourteen  feet  above  the 
ground,  there  it  is  warm.  .  .  .  Why  is  that?  " 

"  I  really  don't  know,"  said  Kovrin,  and  he 

"H'm!  .  .  .  One  can't  know  everything,  of 
course.  .  .  .  However  large  the  intellect  may  be, 
you  can't  find  room  for  everything  in  it.  I  suppose 
you  still  go  in  chiefly  for  philosophy?  " 

"Yes,  I  lecture  in  psychology;  I  am  working  at 
philosophy  in  general." 

"  And  it  does  not  bore  you?  " 

**  On  the  contrary,  it's  all  I  live  for."  -    • 

'*  Well,  God  bless  you!  .  .  ."said  Yegor  Sem- 
yonitch,  meditatively  stroking  his  grey  whiskers. 
"God  bless  you!  ...  I  am  delighted  about  you 
.   .   .  delighted,  my  boy.  .  .   ." 

But  suddenly  he  listened,  and,  with  a  terrible  face, 
ran  off  and  quickly  disappeared  behind  the  trees  in 
a  cloud  of  smoke. 

"  Who  tied  this  horse  to  an  apple-tree?  "  Kovrin  (I 
heard  his  despairing,  heart-rending  cry.  "Who  is;- 
the  low  scoundrel  who  has  dared  to  tie  this  horse  to 
an  apple-tree?  My  God,  my  God!  They  have 
ruined  everything;  they  have  spoilt  everything;  they 
have  done  everything  filthy,  horrible,  and  abominable. 
The  orchard's  done  for,  the  orchard's  ruined.  My 

no  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

When  he  came  back  to  Kovrin,  his  face  looked 
exhausted  and  mortified. 

*'  What  is  one  to  do  with  these  accursed  people?  " 
he  said  in  a  tearful  voice,  flinging  up  his  hands. 
"  Styopka  was  carting  dung  at  night,  and  tied  the 
horse  to  an  apple-tree !  He  twisted  the  reins  round 
it,  the  rascal,  as  tightly  as  he  could,  so  that  the  bark 
is  rubbed  off  in  three  places.  What  do  you  think 
of  that !  I  spoke  to  him  and  he  stands  like  a  post 
and  only  blinks  his  eyes.  Hanging  is  too  good  for 

Growing  calmer,  he  embraced  Kovrin  and  kissed 
him  on  the  cheek. 

"  Well,  God  bless  you !  .  .  .  God  bless  you ! 
.  .  ."  he  muttered.  "  I  am  very  glad  you  have 
come.     Unutterably  glad.  .   .  .  Thank  you." 

Then,  with  the  same  rapid  step  and  preoccupied 
face,  he  made  the  round  of  the  whole  garden,  and 
showed  his  former  ward  all  his  greenhouses  and 
hot-houses,  his  covered-in  garden,  and  two  apiaries 
which  he  called  the  marvel  of  our  century. 

While  they  were  walking  the  sun  rose,  flooding 
the  garden  with  brilliant  light.  It  grew  warm. 
Foreseeing  a  long,  bright,  cheerful  day,  Kovrin 
recollected  that  it  was  only  the  beginning  of  May, 
and  that  he  had  before  him  a  whole  summer  as 
bright,  cheerful,  and  long;  and  suddenly  there  stirred 
in  his  bosom  a  joyous,  youthful  feeling,  such  as  he 
used  to  experience  in  his  childhood,  running  about 
in  that  garden.  And  he  hugged  the  old  man  and 
kissed  him  affcctiqnatelv.  Both  of  them,  feeling 
touched,  went  indoors  and  drank  tea  out  of  old- 

The  Black  Monk  in 

fashioned  china  cups,  with  cream  and  satlsfyuig 
krendels  made  with  milk  and  eggs;  and  these  trifles 
reminded  Kovrin  again  of  his  childhood  and  boy- 
hood. The  delightful  present  was  blended  with  the 
impressions  of  the  past  that  stirred  within  him;  there 
was  a  tightness  at  his  heart;  yet  he  was  happy. 

He  waited  till  Tanya  was  awake  and  had  coffee 
with  her,  went  for  a  walk,  then  went  to  his  room 
and  sat  down  to  work.  He  read  attentively,  making 
notes,  and  from  time  to  time  raised  his  eyes  to  look 
out  at  the  open  windows  or  at  the  fresh,  still  dewy 
flowers  in  the  vases  on  the  table;  and  again  he 
dropped  his  eyes  to  his  book,  and  it  seemed  to  him  as 
though  every  vein  in  his  body  was  quivering  and 
fluttering  with  pleasure. 


In  the  country  he  led  just  as  nervous  and  restless 
a  life  as  in  town.  He  read  and  wrote  a  great  deal, 
he  studied  Italian,  and  when  he  was  out  for  a  walk., 
thought  with  pleasure  that  he  would  soon  sit  down 
to  work  again.  He  slept  so  little  that  every  one 
wondered  at  him;  if  he  accidently  dozed  for  half 
an  hour  in  the  daytime,  he  would  lie  awake  all  night, 
and,  after  a  sleepless  night,  would  feel  cheerful  and 
vigorous  as  though  nothing  had  happened. 

He  talked  a  great  deal,  drank  wine,  and  smoked 
expensive  cigars.  Very  often,  almost  every  day, 
young  ladies  of  neighbouring  families  would  come 
to  the  Pesotskys',  and  would  sing  and  play  the  piano 
with  Tanya;  sometimes  a  young  neighbour  who  was 

112  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

a  good  violinist  would  come,  too.  Kovrin  listened 
with  eagerness  to  the  music  and  singing,  and  was 
exhausted  by  it,  and  this  showed  itself  by  his  eyes 
closing  and  his  head  falling  to  one  side. 

One  day  he  was  sitting  on  the  balcony  after 
evening  tea,  reading.  At  the  same  time,  in  the 
drawing-room,  Tanya  taking  soprano,  one  of  the 
young  ladies  a  contralto,  and  the  young  man  with 
his  violin,  were  practising  a  well-known  serenade 
of  Braga's.  Kovrin  listened  to  the  words  —  they 
were  "Russian  —  and  could  not  understand  their 
meaning.  At  last,  leaving  his  book  and  listening 
attentively,  he  understood:  a  maiden,  full  of  sick 
fancies,  heard  one  night  in  "her  garden  mysterious 
sounds,  so  strange  and  lovely  that  she  was  obliged 
to  recognise  them  as  .a  holy  harmony  which  is  un- 
intelligible to  us  mortals,  and  so  flies  Back  to  heaven.; 
Kovrin's  eyes  began  to  close.  He  got  up,  and  in 
exhaustion  walked  up  and  down  the  drawing-room, 
and  then  the  dining-room.  When  the  singing  was 
over  he  took  Tanya's  arm,  and  with  her  went  out  on 
the  balcony. 

"  I  have  been  all  day  thinking  of  a  legend,"  he 
said.  "  I  don't  remember  whether"'!  have  read  it 
somewhere  or  heard  it,  but  it  is  a  strange  and  almost 
grotesque  legend.  To  begin  with,  it  is  somewhat 
obscure.  A  tholisand  years  ago  a  monk,  dressed  in 
black,  wandered  about  the  desert,  somewhere  in 
Syria  or  Arabia.  .  .  .  Some  miles  from  where  he 
was,  some  fisherman  saw  another  black  monk,  who 
was  moving  slowly  over  the  surface  of  a  lake.  This 
second  monk  was  a  mirage.     Now  forget  all  the 

The  Black  Monk  113 

laws  of  optics,  which  the  legend  does  not  recognise, 
and  listen  to  the  rest.  From  that  mirage  there  was 
cast  another  mirage,  then  from  that  other  a  third, 
so  that  the  image  of  the  black  monk  began  to  be  re- 
peated endlessly  frpm  one  layer  of  the  atmosphere 
to  another.  So  that  he  was  seen  at  one  time  in 
Africa,  at  another  in  Spain,  then  in  Italy,  then  in  the 
Far  North.  .  .  .  Then  he  passed  out  of  the  atmo- 
sphere of  the  earth,  and  now  he  is  wandering  all  over 
the  universe,  still  never  coming  into  conditions  in 
which  he  might  disappear.  Possibly  he  may  be  seen 
now  in  Mars  or  in  some  star  of  the  Southern  Cross. 
But,  my  dear,  the  real  point  on  which  the  whole 
legend  hangs  lies  in  the  fact  that,  exactly  a  thousand 
years  from  the  day  when  the  monk  walked  in  the 
desert,  the  mirage  will  return^  to  _the  atmosphere 
of  the  earth  again  and  will  appear  to  men.  And  it 
seems  that  the  thousand  years  is  almost  up.  .  .  . 
According  to  the  legend,  we  may  look  out  for  the 
black  monk  to-day  or  to-morrow." 

*'  A  queer  mirage,"  said  Tanya,  who  did  not  like 
the  legend. 

''  But  the  most  wonderful  part  of  it  all,"  laughed 
Kovrin,  "  is  that  I  simply  cannot  recall  where  I 
got  this  legend  from.  Have  I  read  it  somewhere? 
Have  I  heard  It?  Or  perhaps  I  dreamed  of  the 
black  monk.  I  swear  I  don't  remember.  But  the 
legend  interests  me.  I  have  been  thinking  about 
it  all  day." 

Letting  Tanya  go  back  to  her  visitors,  he  went 
out  of  the  house,  and,  lost  in  meditation,  walked 
by  the  flower-beds.     The  sun  was  already  setting. 

114  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

The  flowers,  having  just  been  watered,  gave  forth 
a  damp,  irritating  fragrance.  Indoors  they  began 
singing  again,  and  in  the  distance  the  violin  had 
the  effect  of  a  human  voice.  Kovrin,  racking  his 
brains  to  remember  where  he  had  read  or  heard 
the  legend,  turned  slowly  towards  the  park,  and  un- 
consciously went  as  far  as  the  river.  By  a  little 
path  that  ran  along  the  steep  bank,  between  the  bare 
roots,  he  went  down  to  the  water,  disturbed  the 
peewits  there  and  frightened  two  ducks.  The  last 
rays  of  the  setting  sun  still  threw  light  here  and 
there  on  the  gloomy  pines,  but  it  was  quite  dark  on 
the  surface  of  the  river.  Kovrin  crossed  to  the 
other  side  by  the  narrow  bridge.  Before  him  lay 
a  wide  field  covered  with  young  rye  not  yet  in  blos- 
som. There  was  no  living  habitation,  no  living  soul 
in  the  distance,  and  It  seemed  as  though  the  little 
path,  if  one  went  along  it,  would  take  one  to  the 
unknown,  mysterious  place  where  the  sun  had  just 
gone  down,  and  where  the  evening  glow  was  flaming 
in  Immensity  and  splendour. 

"  How  open,  how  free,  how  still  it  is  here !  " 
thought  Kovrin,  walking  along  the  path.  "  And  it 
feels  as  though  all  the  world  were  watching  me, 
hiding  and  waiting  for  me  to  understand  It.  .  .   ." 

But  then  waves  began  running  across  the  rye,  and 
a  light  evening  breeze  softly  touched  his  uncovered 
head.  A  minute  later  there  was  another  gust  of 
wind,  but  stronger  —  the  rye  began  rustling,  and  he 
heard  behind  him  the  hollow  murmur  of  the  pines. 
Ko\Tln  stood  still  in  amazement.  From  the  horizon 
there  rose  up  to  the  sky,  like  a  whirlwind  or  a  water- 

The  Black  Monk  115 

spout,  a  tall  black  column.  Its  outline  was  indistinct, 
but  from  the  first  instant  it  could  be  seen  that  it  was 
not  standing  still,  but  moving  with  fearful  rapidity, 
moving  straight  towards  Kovrin,  and  the  nearer  it 
came  the  smaller  and  the  more  distinct  it  was.  Kov- 
rin moved  aside  into  the  rye  to  make  way  for  it, 
and  only  just  had  time  to  do  so. 

A  monk,  dressed  in  black,  with  a  grey  head  and 
black  eyebrows,  his  arms  crossed  over  his  breast, 
floated  by  him.  .  .  .  His  bare  feet  did  not  touch 
the  earth.  After  he  had  floated  twenty  feet  beyond 
him,  he  looked  round  at  Kovrin,  and  nodded  to  him 
with  a  friendly  but  sly  smile.  But  what  a  pale,  fear- 
fully pale,  thin  face !  Beginning  to  grow  larger 
again,  he  flew  across  the  river,  collided  noiselessly 
with  the  clay  bank  and  pines,  and  passing  through 
them,  vanished  like  smoke. 

*'  Why,  you  see,"  muttered  Kovrin,  *'  there  must 
be  truth  in  the  legend." 

Without  trying  to  explain  to  himself  the  strange 
apparition,  glad  that  he  had  succeeded  in  seeing  so 
near  and  so  distinctly,  not  only  the  monk's  black 
garments,  but  even  his  face  and  eyes,  agreeably  ex- 
cited, he  went  back  to  the  house. 

In  the  park  and  in  the  garden  people  were  moving 
about  quietly,  in  the  house  they  were  playing  —  so 
he  alone  had  seen  the  monk.  He  had  an  intense 
desire  to  tell  Tanya  and  Yegor  Semyonitch,  but  he 
reflected  that  they  would  certainly  think  his  words 
the  ravings  of  delirium,  and  that  would  frighten 
them;  he  had  better  say  nothing. 

He  laughed  aloud,  sang,  and  danced  the  mazurka; 

ii6  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

he  was  in  high  spirits,  and  all  of  them,  the  visitors 
and  Tanya,  thought  he  had  a  peculiar  look,  radiant 
and  inspired,  and  that  he  was  very  interesting. 


After  supper,  when  the  visitors  had  gone,  he  went 
to  his  room  and  lay  down  on  the  sofa :  he  wanted 
to  think  about  the  monk.  But  a  minute  later  Tanya 
came  in. 

*' Here,  Andryusha;  read  father's  articles,"  she 
said,  giving  him  a  bundle  of  pamphlets  and  proofs. 
'^  They  are  splendid  articles.     He  writes  capitally." 

"Capitally,  Indeed!"  said  Yegor  Semyonitch, 
following  her  and  smiling  constrainedly;  he  was 
ashamed.  "  Don't  listen  to  her,  please;  don't  read 
them!  Though,  if  you  want  to  go  to  sleep,  read 
them  by  all  means;  they  are  a  fine  soporific." 

"  I  think  they  are  splendid  articles,"  said  Tanya, 
with  deep  conviction.  "  You  read  them,  Andryusha, 
and  persuade  father  to  write  oftener.  He  could 
write  a  complete  manual  of  horticulture." 

Yegor  Semyonitch  gave  a  forced  laugh,  blushed, 
and  began  uttering  the  phrases  usually  made  use  of 
by  an  embarrassed  author.  At  last  he  began  to  give 

"  In  that  case,  begin  wuth  Gaucher's  article  and 

these   Russian  articles,"  he  muttered,  turning  over 

the  pamphlets  with  a  trembling  hand,  "  or  else  you 

won't  understand.     Before  you  read  my  objections, 

J  you  must  know  what  I  am  objecting  to.     But  it's 

The  Black  Monk  117 

all  nonsense  .  .  .  tiresome  stuff.  Besides,  I  be- 
lieve It's  bedtime." 

Tanya  went  away.  Yegor  Semyonitch  sat  down 
on  the  sofa  by  Kovrin  and  heaved  a  deep  sigh. 

"  Yes,  my  boy  .  .  ."  he  began  after  a  pause. 
**  That's  how  It  Is,  my  dear  lecturer.  Here  I  write 
articles,  and  take  part  in  exhibitions,  and  receive 
medals.  .  .  .  Pesotsky,  they  say,  has  apples  the 
size  of  a  head,  and  Pesotsky,  they  say,  has  made 
his  fortune  with  his  garden.  In  short,  '  Kotcheby 
Is  rich  and  glorious.'  But  one  asks  oneself:  ^hatjs_ 
It_all  for?  The  garden  is  certainly  fine,  a  model. 
It's  not  really  a  garden,  but  a  regular  Institution, 
which  Is  of  the  greatest  public  Importance  because 
it  marks,  so  to  say,  a  new  era  In  Russian  agriculture 
and  Russian  Industry.  But,  what's  it  for?  What's 
the  object  of  It?  "  I,   / 

'^  Tte^iact  speaks_for  itself."      '//^ 

"  I  do  not  mean  m  that  sense.  I  meant  to  ask^ 
what  will  happen  to  the  garden  when  I  die?  In; 
the  condition  In  which  you  see  It  now.  It  would  not 
be  maintained  for  one  month  without  me.  Th6 
whole  secret  of  success  lies  not  In  Its  being  a  big 
garden  or  a  great  number  of  labourers  being  em- 
ployed in  It,  butjn  the  fact  that  I  love  the  work. 
Do  you  understandT^tdve  it  perhaps  more  than 
myself.  Look  at  me;  I  do  everything  myself.  I 
work  from  morning  to  night:  I  do  all  the  grafting, 
myself,  the  pruning  myself,  the  planting  myself.  I 
do  It  all  myself:  when  any  one  helps  me  I  am  jealous 
and  irritable  till  I  am  rude.     The  whole  secret  lies 

ii8  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

in  loving  it  —  that  is,  in  the  sharp  eye  of  the  master; 
yes,  and  in  the  master's  hands,  and  in  the  feeling 
that  makes  one,  when  one  goes  anywhere  for  an 
hour's  visit,  sit,  ill  at  ease,  with  one's  heart  far  away, 
afraid  that  something  may  have  happened  in  the 
i  garden.  But  when  I  die,  who  will  look  after  it? 
Who  will  work?  The  gardener?  The  labourers? 
Yes?  But  I  tell  you,  my  dear  fellow,  the  worst 
enemy  in  the  garden  is  not  a  hare,  not  a  cockchafer, 
and  not  the  frost,  but  any  outside  person." 

"And  Tanya?"  asked  Kovrin,  laughing.  "She 
can't  be  more  harmful  than  a  hare?  She  loves  the 
work  and  understands  it." 

"  Yes,  she  loves  it  and  understands  it.     If  after 

my  death  the  garden  goes  to  her  and  she   is  the 

mistress,  of  course  nothing  better  could  be  wished. 

But  if,  which  God  forbid,  she  should  marry,"  Yegor 

Semyonitch  whispered,  and  looked  with  a  frightened 

look  at  Kovrin,  "  that's  just  it.     If  she  marries  and 

children  come,  she  will  have  no  time  to  think  about 

the  garden.     What  I  fear  most  is:  she  will  marry 

,   some  fine  gentleman,  and  he  will  be  greedy,  and  he 

\  will  let  the  garden  to  people  who  will  run  it  for  profit, 

A  and  everything  will  go  to  the  devil  the  very  first 

)  year !     In   our   work   females   are   the   scourge   of 


Yegor  Semyonitch  sighed  and  paused  for  a 

"Perhaps  it  is  egoism,  but  I  tell  you  frankly: 
I  don't  want  Tanya  to  get  married.  I  am  afraid 
of  it!  There  is  one  young  dandy  comes  to  see  us, 
bringing  his  violin  and  scraping  on  it;  I  know  Tanya 

The  Black  Monk  119 

will  not  marry  him,  I  know  it  quite  well;  but  I  can't 
bear  to  see  him !  Altogether,  my  boy,  I  am  very 
queer.     I  know  that." 

Yegor  Semyonltch  got  up  and  walked  about  the 
room  in  excitement,  and  it  was  evident  that  he 
wanted  to  say  something  very  important,  but  could 
not  bring  himself  to  it. 

"  I  am  very  fond  of  you,  and  so  I  am  going  to 
speak  to  you  openly,"  he  decided  at  last,  thrusting 
his  hands  Into  his  pockets.  "  I  deal  plainly  with 
certain  delicate  questions,  and  say  exactly  what  I 
think,  and  I  cannot  endure  so-called  hidden  thoughts. 
I  will  speak  plainly :  you  are  the  only  man  to  whom 
I  should  not  be  afraid  to  marry  my  daughter.  You 
are  a  clever  man  with  a  good  heart,  and  would  not 
let  my  beloved  work  go  to  ruin;  and  the  chief  reason 
is  that  I  love  you  as  a  son,  and  I  am  proud  of  you.. 
If  Tanya  and  you  could  get  up  a  romance  somehow, 
then  —  well !  I  should  be  very  glad  and  even 
happy.  I  tell  you  this  plainly,  without  mincing  mat- 
ters, like  an  honest  man." 

Kovrin  laughed.  Yegor  Semyonltch  opened  the 
door  to  go  out,  and  stood  in  the  doorway. 

"  If  Tanya  and  you  had  a  son,  I  would  make  a 
horticulturist  of  him,"  he  said,  after  a  moment's 
thought.  ''  However,  this  Is  idle  dreaming.  Good- 

Left  alone,  Kovrin  settled  himself  more  com- 
fortably on  the  sofa  and  took  up  the  articles.  The 
title  of  one  was  *' On  Intercropping";  of  another, 
"  A  Few  Words  on  the  Remarks  of  Monsieur  Z. 
concerning  the  Trenching  of  the  Soil  for  a  New 

120  The  Tales  of  Chekhov- 

Garden";  a  third,  "Additional  Matter  concerning 
Grafting  with  a  Dormant  Bud";  and  they  were  all 

\of  the  same  sort.  But  what  a  restless,  jerky  tone! 
'What  nervous,  almost  hysterical  passion !  Here 
was  an  article,  one  would  have  thought,  with  most 
peaceable  and  impersonal  contents:  the  subject  of 
it  was  the  Russian  Antonovsky  Apple.  But  Yegor 
Semyonitch  began  it  with  "  Audiatur  altera  pars," 
and  finished  it  with  "  Sapienti  sat  " ;  and  between 
these  two  quotations  a  perfect  torrent  of  venomous 
phrases  directed  "  at  the  learned  ignorance  of  our 
recognised  horticultural  authorities,  who  observe 
Nature  from  the  height  of  their  university  chairs," 
or  at  Monsieur  Gaucher,  "  whose  success  has  been 
the  work  of  the  vulgar  and  the  dilettanti."  "  And 
then  followed  an  inappropriate,  affected,  and  in- 
sincere regret  that  peasants  who  stole  fruit  and 
broke  the  branches  could  not  nowadays  be  flogged. 

I  *'  It  is  beautiful,  charming,  healthy  work,  but  even 
in  this  there  is  strife  and  passion,"  thought  Kovrin, 
*'  I  suppose  that  everywhere  and  in  all  careers  men 
of  ideas  are  nervous,  and  marked  by  exaggerated 

1  sensitiveness.     Most  likely  it  must  be  so." 

^  He  thought  of  Tanya,  who  was  so  pleased  with 
Yegor  Semyonitch's  articles.  Small,  pale,  and  so 
thin  that  her  shoulder-blades  stuck  out,  her  eyes, 
wide  and  open,  dark  and  intelligent,  had  an  intent 
gaze,  as  though  looking  for  something.  She  walked 
like  her  father  with  a  little  hurried  step.  She  talked 
a  great  deal  and  was  fond  of  arguing,  accompanying 
every  phrase,  however  insignificant,  with  expressive 

The  Bl^cl^.Monk  121 

mlnijcry  aji^d^esdculatlon^'    No  doubt  she  was  nerv- 
ous In  the  extreme. 

Kovrin  went  on  reading  the  articles,  but  he  under- 
stood nothing  of  them,  and  flung  them  aside.  The 
same  pleasant  excitement  with  which  he  had  earlier 
in  the  evening  danced  the  mazurka  and  Hstened  to 
the  music  was  now  mastering  him  again  and  rousing 
a  multitude  of  thoughts.  He  got  up  and  began  walk- 
ing about  the  room,  thinking  about  the  black  monk. 
It  occurred  to  him  that  if  this  strange,  supernatural 
monk  had  appeared  to  him  only,  that  meant  that  he 
was  ill  and  had  reached  the  point  of  havmg  hallucP 
natTons.  This  reflection  frightened  him,  but  not  for 

"  But  I  am  all  right,  and  I  am  doing  no  harm  to 
any  one;  so  there  is  no  harm  In  my  hanucinatlons^,''/ 
he  thought;  and  he  felt  happy  again. 

He  sat  down  on  the  sofa  and  clasped  his  hands 
round  his  head.  Restraining  the  unaccountable  joy 
which  filled  his  whole  being,  he  then  paced  up  and 
down  again,  and  sat  down  to  his  work.  But  the 
thought  that  he  read  in  the  book  did  not  satisfy  him. 
He  wanted  something  gigantic,  unfathomable,  stu- 
p^ndous"  Towards  mornmg  lie  undressed  and  re^ 
luctantly  went  to  bed:  he  ought  to  sleep. 

When  he  heard  the  footsteps  of  Yegor  Semyo- 
nitch  going  out  into  the  garden,  Kovrin  rang  the  bell 
and  asked  the  footman  to  bring  him  some  wine. 
He  drank  several  glasses  of  Lafitte,  then  wrapped 
himself  up,  head  and  all;  his  consciousness  grew 
clouded  and  he  fell  asleep. 

122  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 


Yegor  Semyonltch  and  Tanya  often  quarrelled 
and  said  nasty  things  to  each  other. 

They  quarrelled  about  something  that  morning. 
Tanya  burst  out  crying  and  went  to  her  room.  She 
would  not  come  down  to  dinner  nor  to  tea.  At  first 
Yegor  Semyonitch  went  about  looking  sulky  and 
dignified,  as  though  to  give  every  one  to  understand 
that  for  him  the  claims  of  justice  and  good  order 
were  more  important  than  anything  else  in  the  world ; 
but  he  could  not  keep  It  up  for  long,  and  soon  sank 
into  depression.  He  walked  about  the  park  de- 
jectedly, continually  sighing:  "  Oh,  my  God!  My 
God!  "  and  at  dinner  did  not  eat  a  morsel.  At  last, 
guilty  and  conscience-stricken,  he  knocked  at  the 
locked  doo"r  and  called  timidly: 

"  Tanya  !     Tanya  !  " 

And  from  behind  the  door  came  a  faint  voice, 
weak  with  crying  but  still  determined: 

"  Leave  me  alone,  if  you  please.'* 

The  depression  of  the  master  and  mistress  was 
reflected  in  the  whole  household,  even  in  the  labour- 
ers^working  in  the  garden.  Kovrin  was  absorbed  in 
his  interesting  work,  but  at  last  he,  too,  felt  dreary 
and  uncomfortable.  To  dissipate  the  general  ill- 
humour  in  some  way,  he  made  up  his  mind  to  inter- 
vene, and  towards  evening  he  knocked  at  Tanya's 
door.     He  was  admitted. 

"  Fie,  fie,  for  shame !  "  he  began  playfully,  look- 
ing with  surprise  at  Tanya's  tear-stained,  woebegone 

The  Black  Monk  123 

face,  flushed  In  patches  with  crying.  "  Is  It  really 
so  serious?     Fie,  fie  !  " 

"  But  If  you  knew  how  he  tortures  me !  "  she  said, 
and  floods  of  scalding  tears  streamed  from  her  big 
eyes.  "  He  torments  me  to  death,"  she  went  on, 
wringing  her  hands.  "  I  said  nothing  to  him  .  .  . 
nothing  ...  I  only  said  that  there  was  no  need  to 
keep  .  .  .  too  many  labourers  ...  If  we  could 
hire  them  by  the  day  when  we  wanted  them.  You 
know  .  .  .  you  know  the  labourers  have  been  doing 
nothing  for  a  whole  week.  .  .  .  I  .  .  .  I  .  .  . 
only  said  that,  and  he  shouted  and  .  .  .  said  .  .  . 
a  lot  of  horrible  Insulting  things  to  me.  What 

"  There,  there,''  said  Kovrin,  smoothing  her  hair. 
"  YouVe  quarrelled  with  each  other,  you've  cried, 
and  that's  enough.  You  must  not  be  angry  for  long 
—  that's  wrong  ...  all  the  more  as  he  loves  you 
beyond  everything." 

'^  He  has  .  .  .  has  spoiled  my  whole  life,"  Tanya 
went  on,  sobbing.  "  I  hear  nothing  but  abuse  and 
.  .  .  insults.  He  thinks  I  am  of  no  use  in  the  house. 
Well!  He  Is  right.  I  shall  go  away  to-morrow;  1 
shall  become  a  telegraph  clerk.  ...  I  don't 
care.   .  .   ." 

"  Come,  come,  come.  .  .  .  You  mustn't  cry, 
Tanya.  You  mustn't,  dear.  .  .  .  You  are  both 
hot-tempered  and  Irritable,  and  you  are  both  to 
blame.     Come  along;  I  will  reconcile  you." 

Kovrin  talked  affectionately  and  persuasively, 
while  she  went  on  crying,  twitching  her  shoulders 

124  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

and  wringing  her  hands,  as  though  some  terrible  mis- 
fortune had  really  befallen  her.  He  felt  all  the 
sorrier  for  her  because  her  grief  was  not  a  serious 
one,  yet  she  suffered  extremely.  What  trivialities 
were  enough  to  make  this  little  creature  miserable 
for  a  whole  day,  perhaps  for  her  whole  life !  Com- 
forting Tanya,  Kovrin  thought  that,  apart  from  this 
girl  and  her  father,  he  might  hunt  the  world  over 
and  would  not  find  people  who  would  love  him  as 
one  of  themselves,  as  one  of  their  kindred.  If  it 
had  not  been  for  those  two  he  might  very  likely, 
having  lost  hisTather  and  mother  in  early  childhood, 
never  to  the  day  of  his  death  have  known  what  was 
meant  by  genuiiie  affection  and  that  na'iye^uncrltical 
J^oye  which  Is  only  lavished  on  very  close  blood  re- 
lations; and  he  felt  that  the  nerves  of  this  weeping, 
shaking  girl  responded  to  his  half-sick,  overstrained 
;  nerves  like  iron  to  a  magnet.  He  never  could  have 
^  loved  a  healthy,  strong,  rosy-cheeked  woman,  but 
\  pale,  weak,  unhappy  Tanya  attracted  him. 

And  he  liked  stroking  her  hair  and  her  shoulders, 
.  pressing  her  hand  and  wiping  away  her  tears.  .  .   . 
I  At  last  she  left  off  crying.      She  went  on  for  a  long 
\tlme  complaining  of  her   father  and  her  hard.  In- 
sufferable life  In  that  house,  entreating  Kovrin  to 
put  himself  In  her  place;  then  she  began,  little  by 
little,  smiling,  and  sighing  that  God  had  given  her 
such  a  bad  temper.     At  last,  laughing  aloud,  she 
called  herself  a  fool,  and  ran  out  of  the  room. 

When  a  little  later  Kovrin  went  Into  the  garden, 
Yegor  Semyonltch  and  Tanya  were  walking  side  by 
side  along  an  avenue  as  though  nothing  had  hap- 

The  Black  Monk  125 

pened,  and  both  were  eating  rye  bread  with  salt  on 
it,  as  both  were  hungry. 

Glad  that  he  had  been  so  successful  in  the  part 
of  peacemaker,  Kovrin  went  into  the  park.  Sitting 
on  a  garden  seat,  thinking,  he  heard  the  rattle  of 
a  carriage  and  a  feminine  laugh  —  visitors  were 
arriving.  When  the  shades  of  evening  began  fall- 
ing on  the  garden,  the  sounds  of  the  violin  and  sing- 
ing voices  reached  him  Indistinctly,  and  that  re- 
minded him  of  the  black  monk.  Where,  In  what 
land  or  In  what  planet,  was  that  optical  absurdity 
moving  now  ? 

Hardly  had  he  recalled  the  legend  and  pictured 
In  his  Imagination  the  dark  apparition  he  had  seen 
In  the  rye-field,  when,  from  behind  a  pine-tree  exactly 
opposite,  there  came  out  noiselessly,  without  the 
slightest  rustle,  a  man  of  medium  height  with  un- 
covered grey  head,  all  In  black,  and  barefooted  like 
a  beggar,  and  his  black  eyebrows  stood  out  conspicu- 
ously on  his  pale,  death-like  face.  Nodding  his 
head  graciously,  this  beggar  or  pilgrim  came  noise- 
lessly to  the  seat  and  sat  down,  and  Kovrin  recog- 
nised him  as  the  black  monk. 

For  a  minute  they  looked  at  one  another,  Kovrin 
with  amazement,  and  the  monk  with  friendliness, 
and,  just  as  before,  a  little  slyness,  as  though  he  were 
thinking  something  to  himself. 

"  But  you  are  a  mirage,"  said  Kovrin.  ^'  Why 
are  you  here  and  sitting  still?  That  does  not  fit  in 
with  the  legend." 

125  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

"  That  does  not  matter,"  the  monk  answered  in 
a  low  voice,  not  immediately  turning  his  face  to- 
wards him.  '*  The  legend,  the  mirage,  and  I  are  all 
the  products  of  your  excited  imagination.  1  am  a 

*'  Then  you  don't  exist?  "  said  Kovrin. 

"  You  can  think  as  you  like,"  said  the  monk,  with 
a  faint  smile.  "  I  exist  in  your  imagination,  and 
your  imagination  is  part  of  nature,  so  I  exist  in 

"  You  have  a  very  old,  wise,  and  extremely  ex- 
pressive face,  as  though  you  really  had  lived  more 
than  a  thousand  years,"  said  Kovrin.  "  I  did  not 
know  that  my  imagination  was  capable  of  creating 
such  phenomena.  But  why  do  you  look  at  me  with 
such  enthusiasm?     Do  you  like  me?  " 

*' Yes,  you  are  one  of  those  few  who  are  justly 
called  the  chosen  of  God.  You  do  the  service  of 
eternal  truth.  Your  thoughts,  your  designs,  the 
marvellous  studies  you  are  engaged  in,  and  all  your 
life,  bear  the  Divine,  the  heavenly  stamp,  seeing  that 
they  are  consecrated  to  the  rational  and  the  beautiful 
—  that  is,  to  what  is  eternal." 

"  You  said  '  eternal  truth.'  .  .  .  But  is  eternal 
truth  of  use  to  man  and  within  his  reach,  if  there  is 
no  eternal  life?  " 

*'  There  Is  eternal  life,"  said  the  monk. 

"Do  you  believe  in  the  immortality  of  man?" 

*'  Yes,  of  course.  A  grand,  brilliant  future  is  In 
store  for  you  men.  And  the  more  there  are  like 
you  on  earth,  the  sooner  will  this  future  be  realised. 
Without  you  who  serve  the  higher  principle  and  live 

The  Black  Monk  127 

in  full  understanding  and  freedom,  mankind  would] 
be  of  little  account:  developing  in  a  natural  way.  '-  . 
would  have  to  wait  a  long  time  for  the  end  of  :z^  , 
earthly  history.     You  will  lead  it  some  thousands/ 
of  years  earlier  into  the  kingdom  of  eternal  truth 
—  and  therein  lies  your  supreme  service.     You  are 
the  incarnation  of  the  blessing  of  God,  which  rests 
upon  men." 

'*  And  what  is  the  object  of  eternal  life?  "  asked 

'*  As  of  all  life  —  en'ovmenr.     Trie   en'oyment 
lies  in  knowledge,  "and" 


in  that  sense  it  has  been  said:     'In  My  Father's 

house  there  are  many  mansions.' '' 

"If  only  you  knew  how  pleasant  It  Is  to  hear 
you !  "  said  Kovrin,  rubbing  his  hands  with  satis- 

"  I  am  very  glad." 

'*  But  I  know  that  when  you  go  away  I  shall  be 
worried  by  the  quesr'on  of  your  reality.  You  are 
a  phantom,  an  hallucination.  So  I  am  mentally  de- 
ranged.  not  normal?*' 

"  What  If  you  are?  Why  trouble  yourself? 
You  are  ill  because  you  have  overworked  and  ex- 
hausted  yourself,  and  that  means  that  you  have  sac- 
rificed your  health  to  the  idea,  and  the  time  Is  near 
at  hand  when  you  will  give  up  Efe  itself  to  It.  What 
could  be  better?  That  Is  the  goal  towards  which 
all  divinely  endowed,  noble  natures  strive." 

*'  If  I  know  I  am  mentally  a^ected.  can  I  trust 

128  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

"  And  are  you  sure  that  the  men  of  genius,  whom 
all  men  trust,  did  not  see  phantoms,  too?  The 
learned  say  now  that  genius  is  allied  to  madness. 
My  friend,  healthy  and  normal  people  are  only  the 
common  herd.  Reflections  upon  the  neurasthenia 
of  the  age,  nervous  exhaustion  and  degeneracy, 
et  cetera,  can  only  seriously  agitate  those  who  place 
the  object  of  life  in  the  present  —  that  is,  the  com- 
mon herd." 

"The  Romans  used  to  say:  Mens  sana  in  cor- 
pore  sano." 

"  Not  everything  the  Greeks  and  the  Romans  said 
Is  true.  Exaltation,  enthusiasm,  ecstasy — all  that 
distinguishes  prophets,  poets,  martyrs  for  the  idea, 
from  the  common  folk  —  is  repellent  to  the  animal 
side  of  man  —  that  is,  his  physical  health.  I  repeat, 
if  you  want  to  be  healthy  and  normal,  go  to  the  com- 
mon herd." 

"  Strange  that  you  repeat  what  often  comes  into 
my  mind,"  said  Kovrin.  "  It  is  as  though  you  had 
seen  and  overheard  my  secret  thoughts.  But  don't 
let  us  talk  about  me.  What  do  you  mean  by  '  eter- 
nal truth'?" 

The  monk  did  not  answer.  Kovrin  looked  at 
him  and  could  not  distinguish  his  face.  His  fea- 
tures grew  blurred  and  misty.  Then  the  monk's 
head  and  arms  disappeared;  his  body  seemed  merged 
into  the  seat  and  the  evening  twilight,  and  he  van- 
ished altogether. 

"  The  hallucination  Is  over,"  said  Kovrin;  and  he 
laughed.     "  It's  a  pity." 

He   went   back  to   the   house,   light-hearted   and 

The  Black  Monk  129 

happy.  The  little  the  monk  had  said  to  him  had 
flattered,  not  his  vanity,  but  his  whole  soul,  his  whole 
being.  To  be  one  of  the  chosen,  to  serve  eternal 
truth,  to  stand  in  the  ranks  of  those  who  could  make 
mankind  worthy  of  the  kingdom  of  God  some  thou- 
sands of  years  sooner  —  that  is,  to  free  men  from 
some  thousands  of  years  of  unnecessary  struggle, 
sin,  and  suffering;  to  sacrifice  to  the  idea  everythmg 
—  youth,  strength,  health;  to  be  ready  to  die  for 
the  common  weal  —  what  an  exalted,  what_a_  happy  ^ 

lot!     He  recalled  his  past  —  pure,   chaste,  labori-  y //^ 
ous;  he  remembered  what  he  had  learned  himself^  ^ 
and  what  he  had  taught  to  others,  and  decided  that 
there  was  no  exaggeration  in  the  monk's  words. 

Tanya  came  to  meet  him  in  the  park:  she  was  by 
now  wearing  a  different  dress. 

"  Are  you  here?  "  she  said.  "  And  we  have  been 
looking  and  looking  for  you.  .  .  .  But  what  Is  the 
matter  with  you?"  she  asked  in  wonder,  glancing 
at  his  radiant,  ecstatic  face  and  eyes  full  of  tears. 
''  How  strange  you  are,  Andryusha!  " 

*'  I  am  pleased,  Tanya,"  said  Kovrin,  laying  his 
hand  on  her  shoulders.  "  I  am  more  than  pleased: 
I  am  happy.  Tanya,  darling  Tanya,  you  are  an 
extraordinary,  nice  creature.  Dear  Tanya,  I  am  so 
glad,  I  am  so  glad!  " 

He  kissed  both  her  hands  ardently,  and  went  on: 

"  I  have  just  passed  through  an  exalted,  wonder- 
ful,  unearthly  moment.  But  I  can't  tell  you  all 
about  it  or  you  would  call  me  mad  and  not  believe 
me.  Let  us  talk  of  you.  Dear,  delightful  Tanya ! 
I  love  you,  and  am  used  to  loving  you.     To  have 

130  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

you  near  me,  to  meet  you  a  dozen  times  a  day,  has 
become  a  necessity  of  my  existence;  I  don't  know 
how  I  shall  get  on  without  you  when  I  go  back 

"  Oh,"  laughed  Tanya,  "  you  will  forget  about  us 
in  two  days.  We  are  humble  people  and  you  are  a 
great  man." 

"  No;  let  us  talk  in  earnest!  "  he  said.  "  I  shall 
take  you  with  me,  Tanya.  Yes?  Will  you  come 
with  me?     Will  you  be  mine?  " 

*'  Come,"  said  Tanya,  and  tried  to  laugh  again, 
but  the  laugh  w^ould  not  come,  and  patches  of  colour 
came  into  her  face. 

She  began  breathing  quickly  and  walked  very 
quickly,  but  not  to  the  house,  but  further  into  the 

"  I  was  not  thinking  of  it  ...  I  was  not  think- 
ing of  it,"  she  said,  wringing  her  hands  in  despair. 

And  Kovrin  followed  her  and  went  on  talking, 
with  the  same  radiant,  enthusiastic  face: 

"  I  want  a  love  that  will  dominate  .me  altogether ; 
and  that  love  only  you,  Tanya,  can  give  me.  I  am 
happy!     I  am  happy!  " 

She  w^as  overwhelmed,  and  huddling  and  shrink- 
ing together,  seemed  ten  years  older  all  at  once, 
while  he  thought  her  beautiful  and  expressed  his 
rapture  aloud: 

"  How  lovely  she  is!  " 


Learning  from  Kovrin  that  not  only  a  romance 
had  been  got  up,  but  that  there  would  even  be  a 

The  Black  Monk  131 

wedding,  Yegor  Semyonltch  spent  a  long  time  in 
pacing  from  one  corner  of  the  room  to  the  other, 
trying  to  conceal  his  agitation.  His  hands  began 
trembling,  his  neck  swelled  and  turned  purple,  he 
ordered  his  racing  droshky  and  drove  off  somewhere. 
Tanya,  seeing  how  he  lashed  the  horse,  and  seeing 
how  he  pulled  his  cap  over  his  ears,  understood 
what  he  was  feeling,  shut  herself  up  in  her  room,  and 
cried  the  whole  day. 

In  the  hot-houses  the  peaches  and  plums  were  al- 
ready ripe;  the  packing  and  sending  off  of  these  ten- 
der and  fragile  goods  to  Moscow  took  a  great  deal 
of  care,  work,  and  trouble.  Owing  to  the  fact  that 
the  summer  w^as  very  hot  and  dry,  it  was  necessary 
to  water  every  tree,  and  a  great  deal  of  time  and 
labour  was  spent  on  doing  it.  Numbers  of  cater- 
pillars made  their  appearance,  which,  to  Kovrin's 
disgust,  the  labourers  and  even  Yegor  Semyonitch 
and  Tanya  squashed  with  their  fingers.  In  spite  of 
all  that,  they  had  already  to  book  autumn  orders 
for  fruit  and  trees,  and  to  carry  on  a  great  deal  of 
correspondence.  And  at  the  very  busiest  time,  when 
no  one  seemed  to  have  a  free  moment,  the  work  of 
the  fields  carried  off  more  than  half  their  labourers 
from  the  garden.  Yegor  Semyonitch,  sunburnt,  ex- 
hausted, ill-humoured,  galloped  from  the  fields  to 
the  garden  and  back  again;  cried  that  he  was  being 
torn  to  pieces,  and  that  he  should  put  a  bullet  through 
his  brains. 

Then  came  the  fuss  and  worry  of  the  trousseau,  to 
which  the  Pesotskys  attached  a  good  deal  of  impor- 
tance.    Every  one's  head  was  In  a  whirl  from  the 

132  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

snipping  of  the  scissors,  the  rattle  of  the  sewing- 
machine,  the  smell  of  hot  irons,  and  the  caprices  of 
the  dressmaker,  a  huffy  and  nervous  lady.  And,  as 
ill-luck  would  have  it,  visitors  came  every  day,  who 
had  to  be  entertained,  fed,  and  even  put  up  for  the 
night.  But  all  this  hard  labour  passed  unnoticed 
as  though  in  a  fog.  Tanya  felt  that  love  and  hap- 
piness had  taken  her  unawares,  though  she  had,  smce 
she  was  fourteen,  for  some  reason  been  convinced 
that  Kovrin  would  marry  her  and  no  one  else.  She 
was  bewildered,  could  not  grasp  it,  could  not  believe 
herself.  ...  At  one  minute  such  joy  would  swoop 
down  upon  her  that  she  longed  to  fly  away  to  the 
clouds  and  there  pray  to  God,  at  another  moment 
she  would  remember  that  In  August  she  would  have 
to  part  from  her  home  and  leave  her  father;  or, 
goodness  knows  why,  the  Idea  would  occur  to  her 
that  she  was  worthless  —  Insignificant  and  unworthy 
of  a  great  man  like  Kovrin  —  and  she  would  go  to 
her  room,  lock  herself  In,  and  cry  bitterly  for  sev- 
eral hours.  When  there  were  visitors,  she  would 
suddenly  fancy  that  Kovrin  looked  extraordinarily 
handsome,  and  that  all  the  women  were  In  love  with 
him  and  envying  her,  and  her  soul  was  filled  with 
pride  and  rapture,  as  though  she  had  vanquished 
the  whole  world;  but  he  had  only  to  smile  politely 
at  any  young  lady  for  her  to  be  trembling  with 
jealousy,  to  retreat  to  her  room  —  and  tears  again. 
These  new  sensations  mastered  her  completely;  she 
helped  her  father  mechanically,  without  noticing 
peaches,  caterpillars  or  labourers,  or  how  rapidly 
the  time  was  passing. 

The  Black  Monk  133 

It  was  almost  the  same  with  Yegor  Semyonitch. 
He  worked  from  morning  till  night,  was  always  in 
a  hurry,  was  irritable,  and  flew  into  rages,  but  all 
of  this  was  in  a  sort  of  spellbound  dream.  It  seemed 
as  though  there  w^ere  two  men  in  him:  one  was  the 
real  Yegor  Semyonitch,  who  was  moved  to  indigna- 
tion, and  clutched  his  head  in  despair  when  he  heard 
of  some  irregularity  from  Ivan  Karlovitch  the  gar- 
dener ;  and  another  —  not  the  real  one  —  who 
seemed  as  though  he  were  half  drunk,  would  Inter- 
rupt a  business  conversation  at  half  a  word,  touch 
the  gardener  on  the  shoulder,  and  begin  muttering: 

''  Say  what  you  like,  there  is  a  great  deal  in  blood. 
His  mother  was  a  wonderful  woman,  most  high- 
minded  and  intelligent.  It  was  a  pleasure  to  look 
at  her  good,  candid,  pure  face;  it  was  like  the  face 
of  an  angel.  She  drew  splendidly,  wrote  verses, 
spoke  five  foreign  languages,  sang.  .  .  .  Poor  thing ! 
she  died  of  consumption.  The  Kingdom  of  Heaven 
be  hers." 

The  unreal  Yegor  Semyonitch  sighed,  and  after  a 
pause  went  on : 

*'  When  he  was  a  boy  and  growing  up  in  my 
house,  he  had  the  same  angelic  face,  good  and  can- 
did. The  way  he  looks  and  talks  and  moves  Is  as 
soft  and  elegant  as  his  mother's.  And  his  intellect ! 
We  were  always  struck  with  his  intelligence.  To  be 
sure,  It's  not  for  nothing  he's  a  Master  of  Arts ! 
It's  not  for  nothing!  And  wait  a  bit,  Ivan  Karlo- 
vitch, what  will  he  be  in  ten  years'  time?  He  will 
be  far  above  us  1  " 

But  at  this  point  the  real  Yegor  Semyonitch,  sud- 

134  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

denly  coming  to  himself,  would  make  a  terrible  face, 
would  clutch  his  head  and  cry: 

"The  devils!  They  have  spoilt  everything  1 
They  have  ruined  everything!  They  have  spoilt 
everything!  The  garden's  done  for,  the  garden's 
ruined !  " 

Kovrin,  meanwhile,  worked  with  the  same  ardour 
as  before,  and  did  not  notice  the  general  commo- 
tion. Love  only  added  fuel  to  .the  flames.  After 
every  talk  with  Tanya  he  went  to  his  room,  happy 
and  triumphant,  took  up  his  book  or  his  manuscript 
with  the  same  passion  with  which  he  had  just  kissed 
Tanya  and  told  her  of  his  love.  What  the  black 
monk  had  told  him  of  the  chosen  of  God,  of  eternal 
truth,  of  the  brilliant  future  of  mankind  and  so  on, 
gave  peculiar  and  extraordinary  significance  to  his 
work,  and  filled  his  soul  with  pride  and  the  conscious- 
ness of  his  own  exalted  consequence.  Once  or  twice 
a  week.  In  the  park  or  In  the  house,  he  met  the  black 
monk  and  had  long  conversations  with  him,  but  this 
did  not  alarm  him,  but,  on  the  contrary,  delighted 
him,  as  he  was  now  firmly  persuaded  that  such  appa- 
ritions only  visited  the  elect  few  who  rise  up  above 
their  fellows  and  devote  themselves  to  the  service  of 
the  idea. 

One  day  the  monk  appeared  at  dinner-time  and 
sat  in  the  dining-room  window.  Kovrin  was  de- 
lighted, and  very  adroitly  began  a  conversation  with 
Yegor  Semyonitch  and  Tanya  of  what  might  be  of 
interest  to  the  monk;  the  black-robed  visitor  listened 
and  nodded  his  head  graciously,  and  Yegor  Semyo- 
nitch and  Tanya  listened,  too,  and  smiled  gaily  with- 

The  Black  Monk  135 

out  suspecting  that  Kovrin  was  not  talking  to  them 
but  to  his  hallucination. 

Imperceptibly  the  fast  of  the  Assumption  was  ap- 
proaching, and  soon  after  came  the  wedding,  which, 
at  Yegor  Semyonitch's  urgent  desire,  was  celebrated 
with  ''  a  flourish  " —  that  is,  with  senseless  festivi- 
ties that  lasted  for  two  whole  days  and  nights. 
Three  thousand  roubles'  worth  of  food  and  drink 
was  consumed,  but  the  music  of  the  wretched  hired 
band,  the  noisy  toasts,  the  scurrying  to  and  fro  of 
the  footmen,  the  uproar  and  crowding,  prevented 
them  from  appreciating  the  taste  of  the  expensive 
wines  and  wonderful  delicacies  ordered  from  Mos- 


One  long  winter  night  Kovrin  was  lying  in  bed, 
reading  a  French  novel.  Poor  Tanya,  who  had 
headaches  in  the  evenings  from  living  in  town,  to 
which  she  was  not  accustomed,  had  been  asleep  a 
long  while,  and,  from  time  to  time,  articulated  some 
incoherent  phrase  in  her  restless  dreams. 

It  struck  three  o'clock.  Kovrin  put  out  the  light 
and  lay  down  to  sleep,  lay  for  a  long  time  with  his 
eyes  closed,  but  could  not  get  to  sleep  because,  as 
he  fancied,  the  room  was  very  hot  and  Tanya  talked. 
In  her  sleep.  At  half-past  four  he  lighted  the  candle 
again,  and  this  time  he  saw  the  black  monk  sitting 
in  an  arm-chair  near  the  bed. 

"  Good-morning,"  said  the  monk,  and  after  a 
brief  pause  he  asked:  "  What  are  you  thinking  of 

136  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

"  Of  fame,"  answered  Kovrln.  "  In  the  French 
novel  I  have  just  been  reading,  there  is  a  descrip- 
tion of  a  young  savant,  who  does  silly  things  and 
pines  away  through  worrying  about  fame.  1  can't 
understand  such  anxiety." 

"  Because  you  are  wise.  Your  attitude  towards 
fame  is  one  of  indifference,  as  towards  a  toy  which 
no  longer  interests  you." 

"  Yes,  that  is  true." 

*'  Renown  does  not  allure  you  now.  What  is 
there  flattering,  amusing,  or  edifying  in  their  carving 
your  name  on  a  tombstone,  then  time  rubbing  off 
the  inscription  together  with  the  gilding?  More- 
over, happily  there  are  too  many  of  you  for  the 
weak  memory  of  mankind  to  be  able  to  retain  your 

"Of  course,"  assented  Kovrin.  "  Besides,  why 
should  they  be^remembered ?  But  let  us  talk  of 
something  else.  Of  happiness,  for  instance.  \VhBt 
is  happiness,?  " 

When  the  clock  struck  five,  he  was  sitting  on  the 
bed,  dangling  his  feet  to  the  carpet,  talking  to  the 

*'  In  ancient  times  a  happy  man  grew  at  last 
frightened  of  his  happiness  —  it  was  so  great!  — 
and  to  propitiate  the  gods  he  brought  as  a  sacrifice 
his  favourite  ring.  Do  you  know,  I,  too,  like 
Polykrates,  begin  to  be  uneasy  of  my  happiness.  It 
seems  strange  to  me  that  from  morning  to  night  I 
feel  nothing  but  joy;  it  fills  my  whole  being  and 
smothers  all  other  feelings.  I  don't  know  what  sad- 
«-^ess,  grief,  or  boredom  is.     Here  I  am  not  asleep; 

The  Black  Monk  137 

I  suffer  from  sleeplessness,  but  I  am  not  dull.     I  say 
it  in  earnest;  Lb^ln_t£jeid_£erglexed.'' 

"But  why?"  the  monk  asked  in  wonder.  "Is 
JQ^  a  supernatural  feeling?  Ought  it  not  to  be 
the  normal  state  of  man?  The  more  highly  a  man 
is  developed  on  the  intellectual  and  moral  side,  the 
more  independent  he  is,  the  more  pleasure  life  gives 
him.  Socrates,  Diogenes,  and  Marcus  Aurelius, 
were  joyful,  not  sorrowful.  And  the  Apostle  tells 
us:  '  Rejoice  continually  ';  '  Rejoice^and  be  glad/ " 

"But  will  the  gods  be  suddenly  wrathful?" 
Kovrin  jested;  and  he  laughed.  "  If  they  take  from 
me  comfort  and  make  me  go  cold  and  hungry,  it 
won't  be  very  much  to  my  taste." 

Meanwhile  Tanya  woke  up,  and  looked  with 
amazement  and  horror  at  her  husband.  He  was 
talking,  addressing  the  arm-chair,  laughing  and  ges- 
ticulating; his  eyes  were  gleaming,  and  there  was 
something  strange  in  his  laugh. 

"  Andryusha,  whom  are  you  talking  to?"  she 
asked,  clutching  the  hand  he  stretched  out  to  the 
monk.     "Andryusha!     Whom?" 

"Oh!  Whom?"  said  Kovrin  in  confusion. 
"  Why,  to  him.  ,  .  .  He  is  sitting  here,"  he  said, 
pointing  to  the  black  monk. 

"  There  is  no  one  here  ...  no  one !  And- 
ryusha, you  are  ill!  " 

Tanya  put  her  arm  round  her  husband  and  held 
him  tight,  as  though  protecting  him  from  the  appa- 
rition, and  put  ETer  hand  over  his  eyes. 

"You  are  ill!"  she  sobbed,  trembling  all  over. 
"  Forgive  me,  my  precious,  my  dear  one,  but  I  have 

138  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

noticed  for  a  long  time  that  your  mind  is  clouded 
in  some  way.  .  .  .  You  are  mentally  ill,  And- 
ryusha.   .  .  ." 

Her  trembling  infected  him,  too.  He  glanced 
once  more  at  the  arm-chair,  which  was  now  empty, 
felt  a  sudden  weakness  in  his  arms  and  legs,  was 
frightened,  and  began  dressing. 

"  It's  nothing,  Tanya;  it's  nothing,"  he  muttered, 
shivering.  "  I  really  am  not  quite  well  .  .  .  it's 
time  to  admit  that." 

"  I  have  noticed  It  for  a  long  time  .  .  .  and 
father  has  noticed  it,"  she  said,  trying  to  suppress 
her  sobs.  "  You  talk  to  yourself,  smile  somehow 
strangely  .  .  .  and  can't  sleep.  Oh,  my  God,  my 
God,  save  us!  "  she  said  in  terror.  "  But  don't  be 
frightened,  Andryusha;  for  God's  sake  don't  be 
frightened.  .  .  ." 

She  began  dressing,  too.  Only  now,  looking  at 
her,  Kovrin  realised  the  danger  of  his  position  — 
realised  the  meaning  of  the  black  monk  and  his  con- 
versations with  him.  It  was  clear  to  him  now  that 
he  was  mad. 

Neither  of  them  knew  why  they  dressed  and  went 
into  the  dining-room:  she  In  front  and  he  following 
her.  There  they  found  Yegor  Semyonitch  stand- 
ing in  his  dressing-gown  and  with  a  candle  in  his 
hand.  He  was  staying  with  them,  and  had  been 
awakened  by  Tanya's  sobs. 

"  Don't  be  frightened,  Andryusha,"  Tanya  was 
saying,  shivering  as  though  in  a  fever;  ''don't  be 
frightened.  .  .  .  Father,  it  will  all  pass  over  .  .  . 
It  will  all  pass  over.  .  .  ." 

The  Black  Monk  139 

Kovrin  was  too  much  agitated  to  speak.  He 
wanted  to  say  to  his  father-in-law  in  a  playful  tone : 
'^  Congratulate  me;  it  appears  I  have  gone  out  of 
my  mind  ";  but  he  could  only  move  his  lips  and  smile 

At  nine  o'clock  in  the  morning  they  put  on  his 
jacket  and  fur  coat,  wrapped  him  up  in  a  shawl,  and 
took  him  in  a  carriage  to  a  doctor. 


Summer  had  come  again,  and  the  doctor  advised 
their  going  into  the  country.  Kovrin  had  recov- 
ered; he  had  left  off  seeing  the  black  monk,  and  he 
had  only  to  get  up  his  strength.  Staying  at  his 
father-in-law's,  he  drank  a  great  deal  of  milk,  worked 
for  only  two  hours  out  of  the  twenty-four,  and 
neither  smoked  nor  drank  wine. 

On  the  evening  before  Elijah's  Day  they  had  an 
evening  service  in  the  house.  When  the  deacon  was 
handing  the  priest  the  censer  the  immense  old  room 
smelt  like  a  graveyard,  and  Kovrin  felt  bored.  He 
went  out  into  the  garden.  Without  noticing  the 
gorgeous  flowers,  he  walked  about  the  garden,  sat 
down  on  a  seat,  then  strolled  about  the  park;  reach- 
ing the  river,  he  went  down  and  then  stood  lost  in 
thought,  looking  at  the  water.  The  sullen  pines 
with  their  shaggy  roots,  which  had  seen  him  a  year 
before  so  young,  so  joyful  and  confident,  were  not 
whispering  now,  but  standing  mute  and  motionless, 
as  though  they  did  not  recognise  him.  And,  indeed, 
his  head  was  closely  cropped,  his  beautiful  long  hair 

140  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

was  gone,  his  step  was  lagging,  his  face  was  fuller 
and  paler  than  last  summer. 

He  crossed  by  the  footbridge  to  the  other  side. 
Where  the  year  before  there  had  been  rye  the  oats 
stood,  reaped,  and  lay  in  rows.  The  sun  had  set 
and  there  was  a  broad  stretch  of  glowing  red  on  the 
horizon,  a  sign  of  windy  weather  next  day.  It  was 
still.  Looking  in  the  direction  from  which  the  year 
before  the  black  monk  had  first  appeared,  Kovrin 
stood  for  twenty  minutes,  till  the  evening  glow  had 
begun  to   fade.   .   .  . 

When,  Hstless  and  dissatisfied,  he  returned  home 
the  service  was  over.  Yegor  Semyonitch  and  Tanya 
were  sitting  on  the  steps  of  the  verandah,  drinking 
tea.  They  were  talking  of  something,  but,  seeing 
Kovrin,  ceased  at  once,  and  he  concluded  from  their 
faces  that  their  talk  had  been  about  him. 

"  I  believe  it  is  time  for  you  to  have  your  milk," 
[Tanya  said  to  her  husband. 

"  No,  it  is  not  time  yet  .  .  ."  he  said,  sitting 
down  on  the  bottom  step.  "  Drink  it  yourself;  I 
don't  want  it." 

Tanya  exchanged  a  troubled  glance  with  her 
father,  and  said  in  a  guilty  voice : 

^'  You  notice  yourself  that  milk  does  you  good." 

"Yes,  a  great  deal  of  good!"  Kovrin  laughed. 
"I  congratulate  you:  I  have  gained  a  pound  in 
weight  since  Friday."  He  pressed  his  head  tightly 
in  his  hands  and  said  miserably:  "  Why,  why  have 
you  cured  me?  Preparations  of  bromide,  idleness, 
hot  baths,  supervision,  cowardly  consternation  at 
every  mouthful,  at  every  step  —  all  this  will  reduce 

The  Black  Monk  141 

me  at  last  to  idiocy.  I  went  out  of  my  mind,  I  had 
meg^alomania ;  but  then  I  was  cheerful,  confident,  and 
even  happy;  I^was  interesting  and  original.  Now  I 
have  become  more  sensible  and  stolid,  but  I  am  just 
like  every  one  else :  1  am  —  mediocrity;  I  am  weary] 
of  life.  .  .  .  Oh,  how  cruelly  you  have  treated  me ! 
...  I  saw  hallucinations,  but  what  harm  did  that 
do  to  any  one?  I  ask,  what  harm  did  that  do  any 

"  Goodness  knows  what  you  are  saying!  "  sighed 
Yegor  Semyonitch.  "  It's  positively  wearisome  to 
listen  to  it." 

"  Then  don't  listen." 

The  presence  of  other  people,  especially  Yegor 
Semyonitch,  irritated  Kovrin  now;  he  answered  him 
drily,  coldly,  and  even  rudely,  never  looked  at  him 
but  with  irony  and  hatred,  while  Yegor  Semyonitch 
was  overcome  with  confusion  and  cleared  his  throat 
guiltily,  though  he  was  not  conscious  of  any  fault 
in  himself.  At  a  loss  to  understand  why  their 
charming  and  affectionate  relations  had  changed  so 
abruptly,  Tanya  huddled  up  to  her  father  and  looked 
anxiously  in  his  face;  she  wanted  to  understand  and 
could  not  understand,  and  all  that  was  clear  to  her 
was  that  their  relations  were  growirLg.  w^  and 
worse  every  day,  that  of  late  her  father  had  begun 
to  look  much  older,  and  her  husband  had  grown 
irritable^  capricious,  quarrelsome  and  uninteresting. 
She  could  not  laugh  or  sing;  at  dinner  she  ate  noth- 
ing; did  not  sleep  for  nights  together,  expecting 
something  awful,  and  was  so  worn  out  that  on  one 
occasion  she  lay  in  a  dead  faint  from  dinner-time 

142  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

till  evening.  During  the  service  she  thought  her 
father  was  crying,  and  now  while  the  three  of  them 
were  sitting  together  on  the  terrace  she  made  an 
effort  not  to  think  of  it. 

*'  How  fortunate  Buddha,  Mahomed,  and  Shake- 
speare were  that  their  kind  relations  and  doctors 
did  not  cure  them  of  theixecstasy  and  their  inspira- 
tion," said  Kovrin.  "  If  Mahomed  had  taken  bro- 
mide for  his  nerves,  had  worked  only  two  hours  out 
of  the  twenty-four,  and  had  drunk  milk,  that  remark- 
able man  would  have  left  no  more  trace  after  him 
than  his  dog.  Doctors  and  kind  relations  will,  suc- 
c_eed  in^  stupefying  mankind,  In_jnaking  mediocrity 
pass  for  genius  and  in  bringing  ruin. 
If  only  you  knew,"  Kovrin  said  with  annoyance, 
"  how  grateful  I  am  to  you." 

He  felt  intense  irritation,  and'^to  avoid  saying  too 
much,)  he  got  up  quickly  and  \^nt  into  the  house. 
It  was  still,  and  the  fragrance  of  the  tobacco  plant 
and  the  marvel  of  Peru  floated  in  at  the  open  win- 
dow. The  moonlight  lay  in  green  patches  on  the 
floor  and  on  the  piano  in  the  big  dark  dining-room. 
Kovrin  remembered  the  raptures  of  the  previous 
summer  when  there  had  been  the  same  scent  of  the 
marvel  of  Peru  and  the  moon  had  shone  in  at  the 
window.  To  bring  back  the  mood  of  last  year  he 
went  quickly  to  his  study,  lighted  a  strong  cigar,  and 
told  the  footman  to  bring  him  some  wine.  But  the 
cigar  left  a  bitter  and  disgusting  taste  in  his  mouth, 
and  the  wine  had  not  the  same  flavour  as  it  had  the 
year  before.  And  so  great  is  the  effect  of  giving  up 
a  habit,  the  cigar  and  the  two  gulps  of  wine  made 

The  Black  Monk  143 

him  giddy,  and  brought  on  palpitations  of  the  heart, 
so  that  he  was  obliged  to  take  bromide. 

Before  going  to  bed,  Tanya  said  to  him: 

"  Father  adores  you.  You  are  cross  with  him 
about  something,  and  it  is  killing  him.  Look  at  him  ; 
he  is  ageing,  not  from  day  to  day,  but  from  hour  to 
hour.  I  entreat  you,  Andryusha,  for  God's  sake, 
for  the  sake  of  your  dead  father,  for  the  sake  of  my 
peace  of  mind,  be  affectionate  to  hijn." 

"I   can't,   I   don't  want  to." 

*'  But  why?  "  asked  Tanya,  beginning  to  tremble 
all  over.     "  Explain  why." 

"  Because  he  iaaiatlpathetic  to  me,  that's  all,"  said 
Kovrin  carelessly;  and  he  shrugged  his  shoulders. 
"  But  we  won't  talk  about  him:  he  is  your  father." 

**  I  can't  understand,  I  can't,"  said  Tanya,  press- 
ing her  hands  to  her  temples  and  staring  at  a  fixed 
point.  "  Something  incomprehensible,  awful,  is 
going  on  in  the  house.  You  have  changed,  grown 
unlike  yourself.  .  .  .  You,  clever,  extraordinary 
man  as  you  are,  aje  irritated  over  trifles,  meddle  in 
paltry  nonsense.  .  .  .  Such  trivial  things  excite  you, 
that  sometimes  one  is  simply  amazed  and  can't  be- 
lieve that  it  is  you.  Come,  come,  don't  be  angry, 
don't  be  angry,"  she  went  on,  kissing  his  hands, 
frightened  of  her  own  words.  "  You  are  clever, 
kind,  noble.  You  will  be  just  to  father.  He  is  so 

"  He  is  not  good;  he  is  just  good-natured.     Bur-  i 
lesque  old  uncles   like  your   father,   with  well-fed, 
good-natured  faces,   extraordinarily  hospitable  and 
queer,  at  one  time  used  to  touch  me  and  amuse  me 

144  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

in  novels  and  In  farces  and  in  life;  now  I  dislike 
them.  They  are  egoists  to  the  marrow  of  their 
bones.  What  disgusts  me  most  of  all  is  their  being 
so  well-fed,  and  that  purely  bovine,  purely  hoggish 
optimism  of  a  full  stomach." 

Tanya  sat  down  on  the  bed  and  laid  her  head  on 
the  pillow. 

'*  This  is  torture,"  she  said,  and  from  her  voice  It 
was  evident  that  she  was  utterly  exhausted,  and  that 
It  was  hard  for  her  to  speak.  ^'  Not  one  moment 
of  peace  since  the  winter.  .  .  .  Why,  it's  awful! 
My  God  !     I  am  wretched." 

^'  Oh,  of  course,  I  am  Herod,  and  you  and  your 
father  are  the  Innocents.     Of  course." 

His  face  seemed  to  Tanya  ugly  and  unpleasant. 
Hatred  and  an  Ironical  expression  did  not  suit  him. 
And,  indeed,  she  had  noticed  before  that  there  was 
something  lacking  In  his  face,  as  though  ever  since 
his  hair  had  been  cut  his  face  had  changed,  too.  She 
wanted  to  say  something  w^ounding  to  him,  but  Im- 
mediately she  caught  herself  in  this  antagonistic  feel- 
ing, she  was  frightened  and  went  out  of  the  bedroom. 


Kovrin  received  a  professorship  at  the  University. 
The  Inaugural  address  was  fixed  for  the  second  of 
December,  and  a  notice  to  that  effect  was  hung  up 
in  the  corridor  at  the  University.  But  on  the  day 
appointed  he  informed  the  students'  Inspector,  by 
telegram,  that  he  was  prevented  by  Illness  from  giv- 
ing the  lecture. 

The  Black  Monk  145 

He  had  hsemorrhage  from  the  throat.  He  was 
often  spitting  blood,  but  it  happened  two  or  three 
times  a  month  that  there  was  a  considerable  loss  of 
blood,  and  then  he  grew  extremely  weak  and  sank 
into  a  drowsy  condition.  This  illness  did  not  par- 
ticularly frighten  him,  as  he  knew  that  his  mother 
had  lived  for  ten  years  or  longer  suffering  from  the 
same  disease,  and  the  doctors  assured  him  that  there 
was  no  danger,  and  had  only  advised  him  to  avoid 
excitement,  to  lead  a  regular  life,  and  to  speak  as 
little  as  possible. 

In  January  again  his  lecture  did  not  take  place 
owing  to  the  same  reason,  and  in  February  it  was 
too  late  to  begin  the  course.  It  had  to  be  postponed 
to  the  following  year. 

By  now  he  w:as  living  not  with  Tanya,  but  with 
another  woman,  who  was  two  years  older  than  he 
was,  and  who  looked  after  him  as  though  he  were  a 
baby.  He  was  in  a  calm  and  tranquil  state  of  mind; 
he  readily  gave  in  to  her,  and  when  Varvara  Niko- 
laevna  —  that  was  the  name  of  his  friend  —  decided 
to  take  him  to  the  Crimea,  he  agreed,  though  he  had 
a  presentiment  that  no  good  would  come  of  the  trip. 

They  reached  Sevastopol  In  the  evening  and 
stopped  at  an  hotel  to  rest  and  go  on  the  next  day  to 
Yalta.  They  were  both  exhausted  by  the  journey. 
Varvara  Nikolaevna  had  some  tea,  went  to  bed  and 
was  soon  asleep.  But  Kovrin  did  not  go  to  bed. 
An  hour  before  starting  for  the  station,  he  had  re- 
ceived a  letter  from  Tanya,  and  had  not  brought 
himself  to  open  It,  and  now  It  was  lying  In  his  coat 
pocket,  and  the  thought  of  It  excited  him  disagree- 


The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

ably.  At  the  bottom  of  his  heart  he  genuinely  con- 
sidered now  that  his  marriage  to  Tanya  had  been  a 
mistake.  He  was  glad  that  their  separation  was 
final,  and  the  thought  of  that  woman  who  in  the 
end  had  turjied  into  a  living  relic,  still  walking  about 
though  everything  seemed  dead  In  her  except  her 
big,  staring,  intelligent  eyes  —  the  thought  of  her 
roused  in  him  nothing  but  pky  and  disgust  with  him- 
self. The  handwriting  on  the  envelope  reminded 
him  how  cruel  and  unjust  he  had  been  two  years  be- 
fore, how  he  had  worked  off  his  anger  at  his  spiritual 
emptiness,  his  boredom,  his  loneliness,  and  his  dis- 
satisfaction with  life  by  reypn^\n^^  h]ir\^e]f  nn  people 
Injio  way;  tojjlame.  He  remembered,  also,  how  he 
had  torn  up  his  dissertation  and  all  the  articles  he 
had  written  during  his  illness,  and  how  he  had 
thrown  them  out  of  window,  and  the  bits  of  paper 
had  fluttered  In  the  wind  and  caught  on  the  trees 
and  flowers.  In  every  line  of  them  he  saw  strange, 
utterly  groundless  pretension,  shallow  defiance,  arro- 
gance, megalomania;  and  they  made  him  feel  as 
though  he  were  reading  a  description  of  his  vices. 
But  when  the  last  manuscript  had  been  torn  up  and 
sent  flying  out  of  window,  he  felt,  for  some  reason, 
suddenly  bitter  and  angry;  he  went  to  his  wife  and 
said  a  great  many  unpleasant  things  to  her.  My 
God,  how  he  had  tormented  her !  One  day,  wanting 
to  cause  her  pain,  he  told  her  that  her  father  had 
played  a  very  unattractive  part  In  their  romance, 
that  he  had  asked  him  to  marry  her.  Yegor  Sem- 
yonitch   accidentally   overheard   this,    ran    into    the 

The  Black  Monk  147 

room,  and,  in  his  despair,  could  not  utter  a  word, 
could  only  stamp  and  make  a  strange,  bellowing 
sound  as  though  he  had  lost  the  power  of  speech, 
and  Tanya,  looking  at  her  father,  had  uttered  a 
heart-rending  shriek  and  had  fallen  into  a  swoon. 
It  was  hideous. 

All  this  came  back  into  his  memory  as  he  looked 
at  the  familiar  writing.  Kovrin  went  out  on  to  the 
balcony;  it  was  still  warm  weather  and  there  was  a 
smell  of  the  sea.  The  wonderful  bay  reflected  the 
moonshine  and  the  lights,  and  was  of  a  colour  for 
which  it  was  difficult  to  find  a  name.  It  was  a  soft 
and  tender  blending  of  dark  blue  and  green ;  in  places 
the  water  was  like  blue  vitriol,  and  in  places  it  seemed 
as  though  the  moonlight  were  liquefied  and  filling 
the  bay  instead  of  water.  And  what  harmony  of 
colours,  what  an  atmosphere  of  peace,  calm,  and 
sublimity ! 

In  the  lower  storey  under  the  balcony  the  win- 
dows were  probably  open,  for  women's  voices  and 
laughter  could  be  heard  distinctly.  Apparently 
there  was  an  evening  party. 

Kovrin  made  an  effort,  tore  open  the  envelope, 
and,  going  back  Into  his  room,  read : 

"  My  father  is  just  dead.  I  owe  that  to  you,  for 
you  have  killed  him.  Our  garden  is  being  ruined; 
strangers  are  managing  It  already  —  that  Is,  the  very 
thing  is  happening  that  poor  father  dreaded.  That, 
too,  I  owe  to  you.  I  hate  you  with  my  whole  soul, 
and  I  hope  you  may  soon  perish.  Oh,  how  wretched 
I  am !     Insufferable  anguish  is  burning  my  soul.  .  .  . 

148  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

My  curses  on  you.  I  took  you  for  an  extraordinary 
man,  a  genius;  I  loved  you,  and  you  have  turned  out 
a  madman.  .   .  ." 

Kovrin  could  read  no  more,  he  tore  up  the  letter 
and  threw  it  away.     He  was  overcome  by  an  un- 
easiness that  was  akin  to  terror.     Varvara  Niko- 
laevna  was  asleep  behind  the  screen,  and  he  could 
hear  her  breathing.     From  the  lower  storey  came 
A  the  sounds  of  laughter  and  women's  voices,  but  he 
II felt  as  though  in  the  whole  hotel  there  were  no  living 
i|soul  but  him.     Because  Tanya,  unhappy,  broken  by 
^■sorrow,  had  cursed_hjm  in  her  letter  and  hoped  for 
his  perdition,  he  felt  eerie  and  kept  glancing  hur- 
riedly at  the  door,  as  though  he  were  afraid  that  the 
uncomprehended  force  which  two  years  before  had 
wrought  such  havocjn  his  life  and  In  the  life  of  those 
near  him  might  come  Into  the  room  and  master  him 
once  more. 

He  knew  by  experience  that  when  his  nerves  were 
out  of  hand  the  best  thing  for  him  to  do  was  to 
work.  He  must  sit  down  to  the  table  and  force 
himself,  at  all  costs,  to  concenjtrate  his  mind  on  some 
one  thought.  He  took  from  his  red  portfolio  a 
manuscript  containing  a  sketch  of  a  small  work  of 
the  nature  of  a  compilation,  which  he  had  planned 
In  case  he  should  find  It  dull  In  the  Crimea  without 
work.  He  sat  down  to  the  table  and  began  work- 
ing at  this  plan,  and  It  seemed  to  him  that  his  calm, 
peaceful,  indifferent  mood  was  coming  back.  The 
manuscript  with  the  sketch  even  led  him  to  medita- 
tion on  the_vanlty_p,f  the  world.  He  thought  how 
much  life  exacts  for  the  worthless  or  very  common- 

The  Black  Monk  149 

place  blessings  It  can  give  a  man.     For  instance,  to 
gain,  before  forty,  a  university  chair,  to  be  an  ordi- 
nary professor,   to   expound  ordinary   and  second- 
hand thoughts  in  duirTheavy,  insipid  language  —  in 
fact,  to  gain  the  position  of  a  mediocre  learned  man, 
he,  Kovrin,  had  had  to  study  jqr_fifteen_  years,  to 
nwork  day  and  nigTit,  to  endure  a  terrible  mental  ill- 
ness, to  experience  an  unhappy  marriage,  and  to  do 
\a  great  number  of  stupid  and  unjust  things  which  it 
would  have  been  pleasant  not  to  remember.     Kovrin 
recognised  clearly,  now,  that  be  was  a  mediocrity,    ^ 
and  readily  resigned  himself  to  it,  as  he  considered 
that  every  man  ought  to  be  satisfied  with  what  he  is. 

The  plan  of  the  volume  would  have  soothed  him 
completely,  but  the  torn  letter  showed  white  on  the 
floor  and  prevented  him  from  concentrating  his  at- 
tention. He  got  up  from  the  table,  picked  up  the 
pieces  of  the  letter  and  threw  them  out  of  window, 
but  there  was  a  light  wind  blowing  from  the  sea, 
and  the  bits  of  paper  were  scattered  on  the  window- 
sill.  Again  he  was  overcome  by  uneasiness  akin  to 
terror,  and  he  felt  as  though  in  the  whole  hotel  there 
were  no  living  soul  but  himself.  .  .  .  He  went  out 
on  the  balcony.  The  bay,  like  a  living  thing,  looked 
at  him  with  its  multitude  of  light  blue,  dark  blue, 
turquoise  and  fiery  eyes,  and  seemed  beckoning  to 
him.  And  it  really  was  hot  and  oppressive,  and  it 
would  not  have  been  amiss  to  have  a  bathe. 

Suddenly  in  the  lower  storey  under  the  balcony  a 
violin  began  playing,  and  two  soft  feminine  voices 
began  singing.  It  was  something  familiar.  The 
song  was  about  a  maiden,  full  of  sick  fancies,  who 

150  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

heard  one  night  hi  her  garden  mysterious  sounds,  so 
strange  and  lovely  that  she  was  obliged  to  recognise 
them  as  a  holy  harmony  which  is  unintelligible  to  us 
mortals,  and  so  flies  back  to  heaven.  .  .  .  Kovrin 
caught  his  breath  and  there  was  a  pang  of  sadness 
at  his  heart,  and  a  thrill  of  the  sweet,  exquisite  de- 
light he  had  so  long  forgotten  began  to  stir  in  his 

A  tall  black  column,  like  a  whirlwind  or  a  water- 
spout, appeared  on  the  further  side  of  the  bay.  It 
moved  with  fearful  rapidity  across  the  bay,  towards 
the  hotel,  growing  cmaller  and  darker  as  it  came, 
and  Kovrin  only  just  had  time  to  get  out  of  the  way 
to  let  it  pass.  .  .  .  The  monk  with  bare  grey  head, 
black  eyebrows,  barefoot,  his*  arms  crossed  over  his 
breast,  floated  by  him,  and  stood  still  in  the  middle 
of  the  room. 

**  Why  did  you  not  believe  me?"  he  asked  re- 
proachfully, looking  affectionately  at  Kovrin.  "  If 
you  had  believed  me  then,  that  you  were  a  genius, 
you  would  not  have  spent  these  two  years  so  gloomily 
and  so  wretchedly." 

Kovrin  already  believed  that  he  was  one  of  God's 
chosen  and  a  genius;  he  vividly  recalled  his  conver- 
sations with  the  monk  in  the  past  and  tried  to  speak, 
but  the  blood  flowed  from  his  throat  on  to  his  breast, 
and  not  knowing  what  he  was  doing,  he  passed  his 
hands  over  his  breast,  and  his  cuffs  were  soaked  with 
blood.  He  tried  to  call  Varvara  Nikolaevna,  who 
was  asleep  behind  the  screen;  he  made  an  effort  and 
said : 

*^  Tanya!" 

The  Black  Monk  151 

He  fell  on  the  floor,  and  propping  himself  on  his 
arms,  called  again: 

''  Tanya  I  " 

He  called  Tanya,  called  to  the  great  garden  with 
the  gorgeous  flowers  sprinkled  with  dew,  called  to 
the  park,  the  pines  with  their  shaggy  roots,  the  rye- 
field,  his  marvellous  learning,  his  youth,  courage,  joy 
—  called  to  life,  which  was  so  lovely.  He  saw  on 
the  floor  near  his  face  a  great  pool  of  blood,  and 
was  too  weak  to  utter  a  word,  but  an  unspeakable, 
infinite  hapoiness  flooded  his  whole  being.  Below, 
under  the  balcony,  they  were  playing  the  serenade, 
and  the  black  monk  whispered  to  him  that  he  was  a 
genius,  and  that  he  was  dying  only  because  his  frail 
human  body  had  lost  its  balance  and  could  no  longer 
serve  as  the  mortal  garb  of  genius. 

When  Varvara  Nikolaevna  woke  up  and  came 
out  from  behind  the  screen,  Kovrin  was  dead,  and  a 
blissful  smile  was  set  upon  his  face. 



At  five  o'clock  one  Sunday  afternoon  In  summer, 
Volodya,  a  plain,  shy,  sickly-looking  lad  of  seven- 
teen, was  sitting  in  the  arbour  of  the  Shumihins' 
country  villa,  feeling  dreary.  His  despondent 
thoughts  flowed  in  three  directions.  In  the  first 
place,  he  had  next  day,  Monday,  an  examination  in 
mathematics;  he  knew  that  if  he  did  not  get  through 
the  written  examination  on  the  morrow,  he  would 
be  expelled,  for  he  had  already  been  two  years  in 
the  sixth  form  and  had  two  and  three-quarter  marks 
for  algebra  in  his  annual  report.  In  the  second 
place,  his  presence  at  the  villa  of  the  Shumihins,  a 
wealthy  family  with  aristocratic  pretensions,  was  a 
continual  source  of  mortification  to  his  amour- 
propre.  It  seemed  to  him  that  Madame  Shumihin 
looked  upon  him  and  his  maman  as  poor  relations 
and  dependents,  that  they  laughed  at  his  maman  and 
did  not  respect  her.  He  had  on  one  occasion  acci- 
dentally overheard  Madame  Shumihin,  in  the  ve- 
randah, telling  her  cousin  Anna  Fyodorovna  that 
his  maman  still  tried  to  look  young  and  got  herself 
up,  that  she  never  paid  her  losses  at  cards,  and  had 
a  partiality  for  other  people's  shoes  and  tobacco. 
Every  day  Volodya  besought  his  maman  not  to  go  to 
the  Shumihins',  and  drew  a  picture  of  the  humiliating 
part  she  played  with  these  gentlefolk.     He  tried  to 


156  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

persuade  her,  said  rude  things,  but  she  —  a  frivo- 
lous, pampered  woman,  who  had  run  through  two 
fortunes,  her  own  and  her  husband's,  in  her  time, 
and  always  gravitated  towards  acquaintances  of  high 
rank  —  did  not  understand  him,  and  twice  a  week 
Volodya  had  to  accompany  her  to  the  villa  he  hated. 

In  the  third  place,  the  youth  could  not  for  one 
instant  get  rid  of  a  strange,  unpleasant  feeling  which 
was  absolutely  new  to  him.  ...  It  seemed  to  him 
that  he  was  in  love  with  Anna  Fyodorovna,  the 
Shumihins'  cousin,  who  was  staying  with  them. 
She  was  a  vivacious,  loud-voiced,  laughter-loving, 
healthy,  and  vigorous  lady  of  thirty,  with  rosy 
cheeks,  plump  shoulders,  a  plump  round  chin  and  a 
continual  smile  on  her  thin  lips.  She  was  neither 
young  nor  beautiful  —  Volodya  knew  that  perfectly 
well;  but  for  some  reason  he  could  not  help  thinking 
of  her,  looking  at  her  while  she  shrugged  her  plump 
shoulders  and  moved  her  flat  back  as  she  played 
croquet,  or  after  prolonged  laughter  and  running 
up  and  down  stairs,  sank  into  a  low  chair,  and,  half 
closing  her  eyes  and  gasping  for  breath,  pretended 
that  she  was  stifling  and  could  not  breathe.  She  was 
married.  Her  husband,  a  staid  and  dignified  archi- 
tect, came  once  a  week  to  the  villa,  slept  soundly, 
and  returned  to  town.  Volodya's  strange  feeling 
had  begun  with  his  conceiving  an  unaccountable 
hatred  for  the  architect,  and  feeling  relieved  every 
time  he  went  back  to  town. 

Now,  sitting  In  the  arbour,  thinking  of  his  exami- 
nation next  day,  and  of  his  maman,  at  whom  they 
laughed,  he  felt  an  Intense  desire  to  see  Nyuta  (that 

Volodya  1 57 

was  what  the  Shumihins  called  Anna  Fyodorovna), 
to  hear  her  laughter  and  the  rustle  of  her  dress.  .  .  . 
This  desire  was  not  like  the  pure,  poetic  love  of 
which  he  read  in  novels  and  about  which  he  dreamed 
every  night  when  he  went  to  bed;  it  was  strange, 
incomprehensible;  he  was  ashamed  of  it,  and  afraid 
of  it  as  of  something  very  wrong  and  impure,  some- 
thing which  it  was  disagreeable  to  confess  even  to 

"  It's  not  love,"  he  said  to  himself.  *'  One  can't 
fall  in  love  with  women  of  thirty  who  are  mar- 
ried. It  is  only  a  little  intrigue.  .  .  .  Yes,  an  in- 
trigue. .  .  ." 

Pondering  on  the  "  intrigue,"  he  thought  of  his 
uncontrollable  shyness,  his  lack  of  moustache,  his 
freckles,  his  narrow  eyes,  and  put  himself  in  his 
imagination  side  by  side  with  Nyuta,  and  the  juxta- 
position seemed  to  him  impossible;  then  he  made 
haste  to  imagine  himself  bold,  handsome,  witty, 
dressed  in  the  latest  fashion. 

When  his  dreams  were  at  their  height,  as  he  sat 
huddled  together  and  looking  at  the  ground  in  a 
dark  corner  of  the  arbour,  he  heard  the  sound  of 
light  footsteps.  Some  one  was  coming  slowly  along 
the  avenue.  Soon  the  steps  stopped  and  something 
white  gleamed  in  the  entrance. 

"  Is  there  any  one  here?  "  asked  a  woman's  voice. 

Volodya  recognised  the  voice,  and  raised  his  head 
In  a  fright. 

''Who  is  here?"  asked  Nyuta,  going  Into  the 
arbour.  ''  Ah,  It  Is  you,  Volodya?  What  are  you 
doing  here?     Thinking?     And  how  can  you  go  on 

158  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

thinking,  thinking,  thinking?  .  .  .  That's  the  way 
to  go  out  of  your  mind!  " 

Volodya  got  up  and  looked  in  a  dazed  way  at 
Nyuta.  She  had  only  just  come  back  from  bathing. 
Over  her  shoulder  there  was  hanging  a  sheet  and 
a  rough  towel,  and  from  under  the  white  silk  ker- 
chief on  her  head  he  could  see  the  wet  hair  sticking 
to  her  forehead.  There  was  the  cool  damp  smell 
of  the  bath-house  and  of  almond  soap  still  hanging 
about  her.  She  was  out  of  breath  from  running 
quickly.  The  top  button  of  her  blouse  was  undone, 
so  that  the  boy  saw  her  throat  and  bosom. 

"  Why  don't  you  say  something?  "  said  Nyuta, 
looking  Volodya  up  and  down.  '*  It's  not  polite  to 
be  silent  when  a  lady  talks  to  you.  What  a  clumsy 
seal  you  are  though,  Volodya !  You  always  sit, 
saying  nothing,  thinking  like  some  philosopher. 
There's  not  a  spark  of  life  or  fire  in  you!  You  are 
really  horrid!  ...  At  your  age  you  ought  to  be 
living,  skipping,  and  jumping,  chattering,  flirting, 
falling  in  love." 

Volodya  looked  at  the  sheet  that  was  held  by  a 
plump  white  hand,  and  thought.  .  .  . 

''He's  mute,"  said  Nyuta,  with  wonder;  "It  is 
strange,  really.  .  .  .  Listen!  Be  a  man!  Come, 
you  might  smile  at  least!  Phew,  the  horrid  philoso- 
pher! "  she  laughed.  "  But  do  you  know,  Volodya, 
why  you  are  such  a  clumsy  seal?  Because  you  don't 
devote  yourself  to  the  ladies.  Why  don't  you? 
It's  true  there  are  no  girls  here,  but  there  is  nothing 
to  prevent  your  flirting  with  the  married  ladies! 
Why  don't  you  flirt  with  me,  for  instance?  " 

Volodya  159 

Volodya  listened  and  scratched  his  forehead  In 
acute  and  painful  irresolution. 

''  It's  only  very  proud  people  who  are  silent  and 
love  solitude,"  Nyuta  went  on,  pulling  his  hand  away 
from  his  forehead.  "  You  are  proud,  Volodya. 
Why  do  you  look  at  me  like  that  from  under  your 
brows  ?  Look  me  straight  in  the  face,  if  you  please  ! 
Yes,  now  then,  clumsy  seal!  " 

Volodya  made  up  his  mind  to  speak.  Wanting 
to  smile,  he  twitched  his  lower  lip,  blinked,  and  again 
put  his  hand  to  his  forehead. 

''  I  .  .  .  I  love  you,"  he  said. 

Nyuta  raised  her  eyebrows  in  surprise,  and 

"What  do  I  hear?"  she  sang,  as  prima-donnas 
sing  at  the  opera  when  they  hear  something  awful. 
"  What?  What  did  you  say?  Say  it  again,  say  it 
again.  .  .  ." 

"  I  ...  I  love  you!  "  repeated  Volodya. 

And  without  his  will's  having  any  part  in  his 
action,  without  reflection  or  understanding,  he  took 
half  a  step  towards  Nyuta  and  clutched  her  by  the 
arm.  Everything  was  dark  before  his  eyes,  and 
tears  came  into  them.  The  whole  world  was  turned 
Into  one  big,  rough  towel  which  smelt  of  the  bath- 

'^  Bravo,  bravo!"  he  heard  a  merry  laugh. 
"Why  don't  you  speak?  I  want  you  to  speak! 

Seeing  that  he  was  not  prevented  from  holding 
her  arm,  Volodya  glanced  at  Nyuta's  laughing  face, 
and  clumsily,  awkwardly,  put  both  arms  round  her 

i6o  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

waist,  his  hands  meeting  behind  her  back.  He  held 
her  round  the  waist  with  both  arms,  while,  putting 
her  hands  up  to  her  head,  showing  the  dimples  in 
her  elbows,  she  set  her  hair  straight  under  the  ker- 
chief and  said  in  a  calm  voice : 

"  You  must  be  tactful,  polite,  charming,  and  you 
can  only  become  that  under  feminine  influence.  But 
what  a  wicked,  angry  face  you  have !  You  must 
talk,  laugh.  .  .  .  Yes,  Volodya,  don't  be  surly;  you 
are  young  and  will  have  plenty  of  time  for  philoso- 
phising.    Come,  let  go  of  me;  I  am  going.     Let 

Without  effort  she  released  her  waist,  and,  hum- 
ming something,  walked  out  of  the  arbour.  Vo- 
lodya was  left  alone.  He  smoothed  his  hair,  smiled, 
and  walked  three  times  to  and  fro  across  the  arbour, 
then  he  sat  down  on  the  bench  and  smiled  again. 
He  felt  insufferably  ashamed,  so  much  so  that  he 
wondered  that  human  shame  could  reach  such  a 
pitch  of  acuteness  and  intensity.  Shame  made  him 
smile,  gesticulate,  and  whisper  some  disconnected 

He  was  ashamed  that  he  had  been  treated  like  a 
small  boy,  ashamed  of  his  shyness,  and,  most  of  all, 
that  he  had  had  the  audacity  to  put  his  arms  round 
the  w^aist  of  a  respectable  married  woman,  though, 
as  it  seemed  to  him,  he  had  neither  through  age  nor 
by  external  quality,  nor  by  social  position  any  right 
to  do  so. 

He  jumped  up,  went  out  of  the  arbour,  and,  with- 
out looking  round,  walked  into  the  recesses  of  the 
garden  furthest  from  the  house. 

Volodya  161 

*'  Ah  I  only  to  get  away  from  here  as  soon  as  pos- 
sible," he  thought,  clutching  his  head.  *'  My  God! 
as  soon  as  possible." 

The  train  by  which  Volodya  was  to  go  back  with 
his  marnan  was  at  eight-forty.  There  were  three 
hours  before  the  train  started,  but  he  would  with 
pleasure  have  gone  to  the  station  at  once  without 
waiting  for  his  fnaman. 

At  eight  o'clock  he  went  to  the  house.  His  whole 
figure  was  expressive  of  determination:  what  would 
be,  would  be !  He  made  up  his  mind  to  go  in 
boldly,  to  look  them  straight  in  the  face,  to  speak 
in  a  loud  voice,  regardless  of  everything. 

He  crossed  the  terrace,  the  big  hall  and  the  draw- 
ing-room, and  there  stopped  to  take  breath.  He 
could  hear  them  In  the  dining-room,  drinking  tea. 
Madame  Shumihin,  maman,  and  Nyuta  were  talking 
and  laughing  about  something. 

Volodya  listened. 

"  I  assure  you!  "  said  Nyuta.  *'  I  cOuld  not  be- 
lieve my  eyes!  When  he  began  declaring  his  pas- 
sion and  —  just  Imagine!  —  put  his  arms  round  my 
waist,  I  should  not  have  recognised  him.  And  you 
know  he  has  a  way  with  him !  When  he  told  me 
he  was  in  love  with  me,  there  was  something  brutal 
in  his  face,  like  a  Circassian." 

"  Really!  "  gasped  maman,  going  off  Into  a  peal 
of  laughter.  "Really!  How  he  does  remind  me 
of  his  father!  " 

Volodya  ran  back  and  dashed  out  Into  the  open 

*'  How  could  they  talk  of  It  aloud !  "  he  wondered 

l62  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

In  agony,  clasping  his  hands  and  looking  up  to  the 
sky  in  horror.  "  They  talk  aloud  In  cold  blood  ,  .  . 
and  ina?7ian  laughed!  .  .  .  Maman!  My  God, 
why  dIdst  Thou  give  me  such  a  mother?     Why?" 

But  he  had  to  go  to  the  house,  come  what  might. 
He  walked  three  times  up  and  down  the  avenue, 
grew  a  little  calmer,  and  went  Into  the  house. 

"Why  didn't  you  come  In  In  time  for  tea?" 
Madame  Shumihin  asked  sternly. 

"  I  am  sorry,  It's  .  .  .  It's  time  for  me  to  go," 
he  muttered,  not  raising  his  eyes.  ''  Maman,  It's 
eight  o'clock !  " 

"  You  go  alone,  my  dear,"  said  his  maman  lan- 
guidly. "  I  am  staying  the  night  with  Lili.  Good- 
bye, my  dear.  .  .  .  Let  me  make  the  sign  of  the 
cross  over  you." 

She  made  the  sign  of  the  cross  over  her  son,  and 
said  In  French,  turning  to  Nyuta : 

"He's  rather  like  Lermontov  .  .  .  Isn't  he?" 

Saying  good-bye  after  a  fashion,  without  looking 
any  one  in  the  face,  Volodya  went  out  of  the  dining- 
room.  Ten  minutes  later  he  was  walking  along  the 
road  to  the  station,  and  was  glad  of  It.  Now  he 
felt  neither  frightened  nor  ashamed;  he  breathed 
freely  and  easily. 

About  half  a  mile  from  the  station,  he  sat  down 
on  a  stone  by  the  side  of  the  road,  and  gazed  at  the 
sun,  which  was  half  hidden  behind  a  barrow.  There 
were  lights  already  here  and  there  at  the  station, 
and  one  green  light  glimmered  dimly,  but  the  train 
was  not  yet  in  sight.  It  was  pleasant  to  Volodya  to 
sit  still  without  moving,  and  to  watch  the  evening 

Volodya  163 

coming  little  by  little.  The  darkness  of  the  arbour, 
the  footsteps,  the  smell  of  the  bath-house,  the  laugh- 
ter, and  the  waist  —  all  these  rose  with  amazing 
vividness  before  his  imagination,  and  all  this  was 
no  longer  so  terrible  and  important  as  before. 

*'  It's  of  no  consequence.  .  .  .  She  did  not  pull 
her  hand  away,  and  laughed  when  I  held  her  by  the 
waist,"  he  thought.  "  So  she  must  have  liked  it. 
If  she  had  disliked  It  she  would  have  been  an- 
gry " 

And  now  Volodya  felt  sorry  that  he  had  not  had 
more  boldness  there  In  the  arbour.  He  felt  sorry 
that  he  was  so  stupidly  going  away,  and  he  was  by 
now  persuaded  that  If  the  same  thing  happened 
again  he  would  be  bolder  and  look  at  it  more  sim- 


And  it  would  not  be  difficult  for  the  opportunity 
to  occur  again.  They  used  to  stroll  about  for  a 
long  time  after  supper  at  the  Shumihins*.  If 
Volodya  went  for  a  walk  with  Nyuta  In  the  dark 
garden,  there  would  be  an  opportunity! 

"  I  will  go  back,"  he  thought,  **  and  will  go  by 
the  morning  train  to-morrow.  ...  I  will  say  I  have 
missed  the  train." 

And  he  turned  back.  .  .  .  Madame  Shumlhin, 
maman,  Nyuta,  and  one  of  the  nieces  were  sitting 
on  the  verandah,  playing  vint.  When  Volodya  told 
them  the  lie  that  he  had  missed  the  train,  they  were 
uneasy  that  he  might  be  late  for  the  examination 
next  day,  and  advised  him  to  get  up  early.  All  the 
while  they  were  playing  he  sat  on  one  side,  greedily 
watching  Nyuta  and  waiting.   .  .   .  He  already  had 

164  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

a  plan  prepared  in  his  mind:  he  would  go  up  to 
Nyuta  in  the  dark,  would  take  her  by  the  hand,  then 
would  embrace  her;  there  would  be  no  need  to  say 
anything,  as  both  of  them  would  understand  without 

But  after  supper  the  ladies  did  not  go  for  a  walk 
in  the  garden,  but  went  on  playing  cards.  They 
played  till  one  o'clock  at  night,  and  then  broke  up 
to  go  to  bed. 

"How  stupid  it  all  is!"  Volodya  thought  with 
vexation  as  he  got  into  bed.  "  But  never  mind;  Fll 
wait  till  to-morrow  .  .  .  to-morrow  in  the  arbour. 
It  doesn't  matter.  .  .  ." 

He  did  not  attempt  to  go  to  sleep,  but  sat  in  bed, 
hugging  his  knees  and  thinking.  All  thought  of  the 
examination  was  hateful  to  him.  He  had  already 
made  up  his  mind  that  they  would  expel  him,  and 
that  there  was  nothing  terrible  about  his  being  ex- 
pelled. On  the  contrary,  it  was  a  good  thing  —  a 
very  good  thing,  in  fact.  Next  day  he  would  be  as 
free  as  a  bird;  he  would  put  on  ordinary  clothes  in- 
stead of  his  school  uniform,  w^ould  smoke  openly, 
come  out  here,  and  make  love  to  Nyuta  when  he 
liked;  and  he  would  not  be  a  schoolboy  but  "  a  young 
man."  And  as  for  the  rest  of  it,  what  is  called  a 
career,  a  future,  that  was  clear;  Volodya  would  go 
into  the  army  or  the  telegraph  service,  or  he  would 
go  into  a  chemist's  shop  and  work  his  way  up  till 
he  was  a  dispenser.  .  .  .  There  were  lots  of  call- 
ings. An  hour  or  two  passed,  and  he  was  still  sit- 
ting and  thinking.   .   .   . 

Towards  three  o'clock,  when  it  was  beginning  to 

Volodya  165 

get  light,  the  door  creaked  cautiously  and  his  maman 
came  into  the  room. 

"  Aren't  you  asleep?  "  she  asked,  yawning.  "  Go 
to  sleep;  I  have  only  come  in  for  a  minute.  ...  I 
am  only  fetching  the  drops.  ..." 

"What  for?" 

"  Poor  Lili  has  got  spasms  again.  Go  to  sleep, 
my  child,  your  examination's  to-morrow.  .  .  ." 

She  took  a  bottle  of  something  out  of  the  cup- 
board, went  to  the  window,  read  the  label,  and  went 

"  Marya  Leontyevna,  those  are  not  the  drops !  " 
Volodya  heard  a  woman's  voice,  a  minute  later. 
**  That's  convallaria,  and  Lili  wants  morphine.  Is 
your  son  asleep?     Ask  him  to  look  for  it.  .  .  ." 

It  was  Nyuta's  voice.  Volodya  turned  cold.  He 
hurriedly  put  on  his  trousers,  flung  his  coat  over  his 
shoulders,  and  went  to  the  door. 

"  Do  you  understand?  Morphine,"  Nyuta  ex- 
plained in  a  whisper.  "  There  must  be  a  label  in 
Latin.     Wake  Volodya ;  he  will  find  it." 

Maman  opened  the  door  and  Volodya  caught 
sight  of  Nyuta.  She  was  wearing  the  same  loose 
wrapper  in  which  she  had  gone  to  bathe.  Her  hair 
hung  loose  and  disordered  on  her  shoulders,  her  face 
looked  sleepy  and  dark  In  the  half-light.  .  .  . 

"  Why,  Volodya  is  not  asleep,"  she  said.  "  Vo- 
lodya, look  in  the  cupboard  for  the  morphine,  there's 
a  dear!  What  a  nuisance  Lili  is!  She  has  always 
something  the  matter." 

Maman  muttered  something,  yawned,  and  went 

i66  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

''Look  for  It,"  said  Nyuta.  "Why  are  you 
standing  still?  ** 

Volodya  went  to  the  cupboard,  knelt  down,  and 
began  looking  through  the  bottles  and  boxes  of  medi- 
cine. His  hands  were  trembling,  and  he  had  a  feel- 
ing In  his  chest  and  stomach  as  though  cold  waves 
were  running  all  over  his  Inside.  He  felt  suffocated 
and  giddy  from  the  smell  of  ether,  carbolic  add,  and 
various  drugs,  which  he  quite  unnecessarily  snatched 
up  with  his  trembling  fingers  and  spilled  In  so  doing. 

"  I  believe  fnaman  has  gone,"  he  thought. 
"  That's  a  good  thing  ...  a  good  thing.  .  .   ." 

"  Will  you  be  quick?  "  said  Nyuta,  drawling. 

"  In  a  minute.  .  .  .  Here,  I  believe  this  Is  mor- 
phine," said  Volodya,  reading  on  one  of  the  labels 
the  word  "  morph  .   .  ."     "Here  It  Is!" 

Nyuta  was  standing  in  the  doorway  in  such  a  way 
that  one  foot  was  In  his  room  and  one  was  In  the 
passage.  She  was  tidying  her  hair,  which  was  diffi- 
cult to  put  In  order  because  it  was  so  thick  and  long, 
and  looked  absent-mindedly  at  Volodya.  In  her 
loose  wrap,  with  her  sleepy  face  and  her  hair  down, 
in  the  dim  light  that  came  into  the  white  sky  not 
yet  lit  by  the  sun,  she  seemed  to  Volodya  captivating, 
magnificent.  .  .  .  Fascinated,  trembling  all  over, 
and  remembering  with  relish  how  he  had  held  that 
exquisite  body  in  his  arms  In  the  arbour,  he  handed 
her  the  bottle  and  said: 

"  How  wonderful  you  are !  " 


She  came  into  the  room. 

"What?"  she  asked,  smiling. 

Volodya  I67 

He  was  silent  and  looked  at  her,  then,  just  as  in 
the  arbour,  he  took  her  hand,  and  she  looked  at  him 
with  a  smile  and  waited  for  what  would  happen 

"  I  love  you,"  he  whispered. 

She  left  off  smiling,  thought  a  minute,  and  said: 

*'  Wait  a  little;  I  think  somebody  is  coming.  Oh, 
these  schoolboys!  "  she  said  in  an  undertone,  going 
to  the  door  and  peeping  out  into  the  passage.  ,  "  No, 
there  is  no  one  to  be  seen.  .  .  ." 

She  came  back. 

Then  it  seemed  to  Volodya  that  the  room,  Nyuta, 
the  sunrise  and  himself  —  all  melted  together  in  one 
sensation  of  acute,  extraordinary,  incredible  bliss, 
for  which  one  might  give  up  one's  whole  life  and  face 
eternal  torments.  .  .  .  But  half  a  minute  passed  and 
all  that  vanished.  Volodya  saw  only  a  fat,  plain 
face,  distorted  by  an  expression  of  repulsion,  and  he 
himself  suddenly  felt  a  loathing  for  what  had  hap- 

"  I  must  go  away,  though,"  said  Nyuta,  looking 
at  Volodya  with  disgust.  "  What  a  wretched,  ugly 
.  .  .  fie,  ugly  duckling!  " 

How  unseemly  her  long  hair,  her  loose  wrap,  her 
steps,  her  voice  seemed  to  Volodya  now !   .  .   . 

*'  *  Ugly  duckling '  .  .  ."  he  thought  after  she 
had  gone  away.  "  I  really  am  ugly  .  .  .  every- 
thing is  ugly." 

The  sun  was  rising,  the  birds  were  singing  loudly ; 
he  could  hear  the  gardener  walking  in  the  garden 
and  the  creaking  of  his  wheelbarrow  .  .  .  and  soon 
afterwards  he  heard  the  lowing  of  the  cows  and  the 

i68  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

sounds  of  the  shepherd's  pipe.  The  sunlight  and 
the  sounds  told  him  that  somewhere  in  this  world 
there  is  a  pure,  refined,  poetical  life.  But  where 
was  it?  Volodya  had  never  heard  a  word  of  it 
from  his  maman  or  any  of  the  people  round  about 

When  the  footman  came  to  wake  him  for  the 
morning  train,  he  pretended  to  be  asleep.  .   .  . 

''  Bother  it !     Damn  it  all !  "  he  thought. 

He  got  up  between  ten  and  eleven. 

Combing  his  hair  before  the  looking-glass,  and 
looking  at  his  ugly  face,  pale  from  his  sleepless  night, 
he  thought: 

"  It's  perfectly  true  ...  an  ugly  duckling!  " 

When  maman  saw  him  and  was  horrified  that  he 
was  not  at  his  examination,  Volodya  said: 

*'  I  overslept  myself,  maman.  .  .  .  But  don't 
worry,  I  will  get  a  medical  certificate." 

Madame  Shumihin  and  Nyuta  waked  up  at  one 
o'clock.  Volodya  heard  Madame  Shumihin  open 
her  window  with  a  bang,  heard  Nyuta  go  off  into  a 
peal  of  laughter  in  reply  to  her  coarse  voice.  He 
saw  the  door  open  and  a  string  of  nieces  and  other 
toadies  (among  the  latter  was  his  maman)  file  into 
lunch,  caught  a  glimpse  of  Nyuta's  freshly  washed 
laughing  face,  and,  beside  her,  the  black  brows  and 
beard  of  her  husband  the  architect,  who  had  just 

Nyuta  was  wearing  a  Little  Russian  dress  which 
tlld  not  suit  her  at  all,  and  made  her  look  clumsy: 
the  architect  was  making  dull  and  vulgar  jokes. 
The  rissoles  served  at  lunch  had  too  much  onion  in 

Volodya  169 

them  —  so  it  seemed  to  Volodya.  It  also  seemed 
to  him  that  Nyuta  laughed  loudly  on  purpose,  and 
kept  glancing  in  his  direction  to  give  him  to  under- 
stand that  the  memory  of  the  night  did  not  trouble 
her  in  the  least,  and  that  she  was  not  aware  of  the 
presence  at  table  of  the  "  ugly  duckling." 

At  four  o'clock  Volodya  drove  to  the  station  with 
his  viaman.  Foul  memories,  the  sleepless  night, 
the  prospect  of  expulsion  from  school,  the  stings  of 
conscience  —  all  roused  in  him  now  an  oppressive, 
gloomy  anger.  He  looked  at  mamans  sharp  pro- 
file, at  her  little  nose,  and  at  the  raincoat  which  was 
a  present  from  Nyuta,  and  muttered: 

"Why  do  you  powder?  It's  not  becoming  at 
your  age!  You  make  yourself  up,  don't  pay  your 
debts  at  cards,  smoke  other  people's  tobacco.  .  .  . 
It's  hateful!  I  don't  love  you  ...  I  don't  love 

He  was  insulting  her,  and  she  moved  her  little 
eyes  about  in  alarm,  flung  up  her  hands,  and  whis- 
pered in  horror: 

"  What  are  you  saying,  my  dear !  Good  gra- 
cious! the  coachman  will  hear!  Be  quiet  or  the 
coachman  will  hear !     He  can  overhear  everything." 

"  I  don't  love  you  ...  I  don't  love  you!  "  he 
went  on  breathlessly.  "  You've  no  soul  and  no 
morals.  .  .  .  Don't  dare  to  wear  that  raincoat! 
Do  you  hear?     Or  else  I  will  tear  it  into  rags.  .  .  ." 

"  Control  yourself,  my  child,"  maman  wept;  "  the 
coachman  can  hear!  " 

"And  where  is  my  father's  fortune?  Where  is 
your  money?     You  have  wasted  it  all.     I  am  not 

lyo  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

ashamed  of  being  poor,  but  I  am  ashamed  of  havuig 
such  a  mother.  .  .  .  When  my  schoolfellows  ask 
questions  about  you,  I  always  blush." 

In  the  train  they  had  to  pass  two  stations  before 
they  reached  the  town.  Volodya  spent  all  the  time 
on  the  little  platform  between  two  carriages  and 
shivered  all  over.  He  did  not  want  to  go  into  the 
compartment  because  there  the  mother  he  hated  was 
sitting.  He  hated  himself,  hated  the  ticket  col- 
lectors, the  smoke  from  the  engine,  the  cold  to  which 
he  attributed  his  shivering.  And  the  heavier  the 
weight  on  his  heart,  the  more  strongly  he  felt  that 
somewhere  in  the  world,  among  some  people,  there 
was  a  pure,  honourable,  warm,  refined  life,  full  of 
love,  affection,  gaiety,  and  serenity.  .  .  .  He  felt 
this  and  was  so  intensely  miserable  that  one  of  the 
passengers,  after  looking  in  his  face  attentively, 
actually  asked: 

"  You  have  the  toothache,  I  suppose?  " 
In  the  town  niaman  and  Volodya  lived  with 
Marya  Petrovna,  a  lady  of  noble  rank,  who  had  a 
large  flat  and  let  rooms  to  boarders.  Maman  had 
two  rooms,  one  with  windows  and  two  pictures  in 
gold  frames  hanging  on  the  walls.  In  which  her  bed 
stood  and  in  which  she  lived,  and  a  little  dark  room 
opening  out  of  It  In  which  Volodya  lived.  Here 
there  was  a  sofa  on  which  he  slept,  and,  except  that 
sofa,  there  was  no  other  furniture;  the  rest  of  the 
room  was  entirely  filled  up  with  whicker  baskets  full 
of  clothes,  cardboard  hat-boxes,  and  all  sorts  of  rub- 
bish, which  maman  preserved  for  some  reason  or 
other.     Volodya  prepared  his  lessons  either  in  his 

Volodya  171 

mother's  room  or  In  the  "  general  room,"  as  the 
large  room  in  which  the  boarders  assembled  at  din- 
ner-time and  in  the  evening  was  called. 

On  reaching  home  he  lay  down  on  his  sofa  and 
put  the  quilt  over  him  to  stop  his  shivering.  The 
cardboard  hat-boxes,  the  wicker  baskets,  and  the 
other  rubbish,  reminded  him  that  he  had  not  a  room 
of  his  own,  that  he  had  no  refuge  in  which  he  could 
get  away  from  his  mother,  from  her  visitors,  and 
from  the  voices  that  were  floating  up  from  the  ''  gen- 
eral room."  The  satchel  and  the  books  lying  about 
in  the  corners  reminded  him  of  the  examination  he 
had  missed.  .  .  .  For  some  reason  there  came  into 
his  mind,  quite  inappropriately,  Mentone,  where  he 
had  lived  with  his  father  when  he  was  seven  years 
old;  he  thought  of  Biarritz  and  two  little  English 
girls  with  whom  he  ran  about  on  the  sand.  .  .  .  He 
tried  to  recall  to  his  memory  the  colour  of  the  sky, 
the  sea,  the  height  of  the  waves,  and  his  mood  at 
the  time,  but  he  could  not  succeed.  The  English 
girls  flitted  before  his  imagination  as  though  they 
were  living;  all  the  rest  was  a  medley  of  images  that 
floated  aw^ay  in  confusion.   .  .  . 

"  No;  it's  cold  here,"  thought  Volodya.  He  got 
up,  put  on  his  overcoat,  and  went  into  the  "  general 

There  they  were  drinking  tea.  There  were  three 
people  at  the  samovar:  maman;  an  old  lady  wdth 
tortolseshell  pince-nez,  who  gave  music  lessons;  and 
Avgustin  Mlhalitch,  an  elderly  and  very  stout 
Frenchman,  who  was  employed  at  a  perfumery  fac- 

172  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

''  I  have  had  no  dinner  to-day,"  said  maman.  "  I 
ought  to  send  the  maid  to  buy  some  bread." 

*'  Dunyasha !  "  shouted  the  Frenchman. 

It  appeared  that  the  maid  had  been  sent  out  some- 
where by  the  lady  of  the  house. 

"  Oh,  that's  of  no  consequence,"  said  the  French- 
man, with  a  broad  smile.  *'  I  will  go  for  some 
bread  myself  at  once.     Oh,  it's  nothing." 

He  laid  his  strong,  pungent  cigar  in  a  conspicuous 
place,  put  on  his  hat  and  went  out.  After  he  had 
gone  away  marnan  began  telling  the  music  teacher 
how  she  had  been  staying  at  the  Shumihins',  and  how 
warmly  they  welcomed  her. 

"  Lili  Shumihin  is  a  relation  of  mine,  you  know," 
she  said.  "  Her  late  husband,  General  Shumihin, 
was  a  cousin  of  my  husband.  And  she  was  a  Baron- 
ess Kolb  by  birth.  .  .   ." 

^^  Maman  J  that's  false!"  said  Volodya  irritably. 
"Why  tell  hes?" 

He  knew  perfectly  well  that  what  his  mother  said 
was  true;  in  what  she  was  saying  about  General 
Shumihin  and  about  Baroness  Kolb  there  was  not  a 
word  of  lying,  but  nevertheless  he  felt  that  she  was 
lying.  There  was  a  suggestion  of  falsehood  in  her 
manner  of  speaking,  in  the  expression  of  her  face,  in 
her  eyes,  in  everything. 

"You  are  lying,"  repeated  Volodya;  and  he 
brought  his  fist  down  on  the  table  with  such  force 
that  all  the  crockery  shook  and  maman^s  tea  was 
spilt  over.  "  Why  do  you  talk  about  generals  and 
baronesses?     It's  all  lies!" 

The  music  teacher  was  disconcerted,  and  coughed 

Volodya  173 

Into  her  handkerchief,  affecting  to  sneeze,  and 
manian  began  to  cry. 

*' Where  can  I  go?"  thought  Volodya. 

He  had  been  in  the  street  already;  he  was 
ashamed  to  go  to  his  schoolfellows.  Again,  quite 
incongruously,  he  remembered  the  two  Httle  Eng- 
lish girls.  .  .  .  He  paced  up  and  down  the  "  general 
room,"  and  went  Into  Avgustin  Mihalitch's  room. 
Here  there  was  a  strong  smell  of  ethereal  oils  and 
glycerine  soap.  On  the  table,  in  the  window,  and 
even  on  the  chairs,  there  were  a  number  of  bottles, 
glasses,  and  wineglasses  containing  fluids  of  various 
colours.  Volodya  took  up  from  the  table  a  news- 
paper, opened  It  and  read  the  title  Figaro.  .  .  . 
There  was  a  strong  and  pleasant  scent  about  the 
paper.     Then  he  took  a  revolver  from  the  table.  .  .  . 

*' There,  there!  Don't  take  any  notice  of  it." 
The  music  teacher  was  comforting  maman  In  the 
next  room.  ''  He  Is  young!  Young  people  of  his 
age  never  restrain  themselves.  One  must  resign 
oneself  to  that." 

*' No,  Yevgenya  Andreyevna;  he's  too  spoilt," 
said  maman  In  a  singsong  voice.  *'  He  has  no  one 
in  authority  over  him,  and  I  am  weak  and  can  do 
nothing.     Oh,  I  am  unhappy!  " 

Volodya  put  the  muzzle  of  the  revolver  to  his 
mouth,  felt  something  like  a  trigger  or  spring,  and 
pressed  it  with  his  finger.  .  .  .  Then  felt  something 
else  projecting,  and  once  more  pressed  It.  Taking 
the  muzzle  out  of  his  mouth,  he  wiped  it  with  the 
lapel  of  his  coat,  looked  at  the  lock.  He  had  never 
in  his  life  taken  a  weapon  in  his  hand  before,  .  .  . 

174  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

"  I  believe  one  ought  to  raise  this  .  .  ."  he  re- 
flected.    "  Yes,  it  seems  so." 

Avgustin  Mihalitch  went  into  the  *'  general 
room,"  and  with  a  laugh  began  telling  them  about 
something.  Volodya  put  the  muzzle  in  his  mouth 
again,  pressed  it  with  his  teeth,  and  pressed  some- 
thing with  his  fingers.  There  was  a  sound  of  a 
shot.  .  .  .  Something  hit  Volodya  in  the  back  of  his 
head  with  terrible  violence,  and  he  fell  on  the  table 
v/ith  his  face  downwards  among  the  bottles  and 
glasses.  Then  he  saw  his  father,  as  in  Mentone,  in 
a  top-hat  with  a  wide  black  band  on  it,  wearing 
mourning  for  some  lady,  suddenly  seize  him  by  both 
hands,  and  they  fell  headlong  into  a  very  deep,  dark 

Then  everything  was  blurred  and  vanished. 




Through  causes  which  it  is  not  the  time  to  go  into 
in  detail,  I  had  to  enter  the  service  of  a  Petersburg 
official  called  Orlov,  in  the  capacity  of  a  footman. 
He  was  about  five  and  thirty,  and  was  called 
Georgy  *  Ivanitch. 

I  entered  this  Orlov's  service  on  account  of  his 
father,  a  prominent  political  man,  whom  I  looked 
upon  as  a  serious  enemy  of  my  cause.  I  reckoned 
that,  living  with  the  son,  I  should  —  from  the  con- 
versations I  should  hear,  and  from  the  letters  and 
papers  I  should  find  on  the  table  —  learn  every  de- 
tail of  the  father's  plans  and  intentions. 
.  As  a  rule  at  eleven  o'clock  in  the  morning  the 
electric  bell  rang  in  my  footman's  quarters  to  let 
me  know  that  my  master  was  awake.  When  I  went 
into  the  bedroom  with  his  polished  shoes  and 
brushed  clothes,  Georgy  Ivanitch  would  be  sitting 
in  his  bed  with  a  face  that  looked,  not  drowsy,  but 
rather  exhausted  by  sleep,  and  he  would  gaze  off  in 
one  direction  without  any  sign  of  satisfaction  at 
having  waked.  I  helped  him  to  dress,  and  he  let 
me  do  it  with  an  air  of  reluctance  without  speaking 
or  noticing  my  presence ;  then  with  his  head  wet  with 
washing,  smelling  of  fresh  scent,  he  used  to  go  into 

*  Both  g*s  hard,  as  in  "  Gorgon  " ;  e  like  ai  in  rain. 


178  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

the  dining-room  to  drink  his  coifee.  He  used  to  sit 
at  the  table,  sipping  his  coffee  and  glancing  through 
the  newspapers,  while  the  maid  Polya  and  I  stood 
respectfully  at  the  door  gazing  at  him.  Two 
grown-up  persons  had  to  stand  watching  with  the 
gravest  attention  a  third  drinking  coffee  and  munch- 
ing rusks.  It  was  probably  ludicrous  and  grotesque, 
but  I  saw  nothing  humiliating  in  having  to  stand 
near  the  door,  though  I  was  quite  as  well  borti  and 
well  educated  as  Orlov  himself. 

I  was  in  the  first  stage  of  consumption,  and  w^as 
suffering  from  something  else,  possibly  even  more 
serious  than  consumption.  I  don't  know  whether 
it  was  the  effect  of  my  illness  or  of  an  incipient 
change  in  my  philosophy  of  life  of  which  I  was  not 
conscious  at  the  time,  but  I  was,  day  by  day,  more 
possessed  by  a  passionate,  irritating  longing  for  ordi- 
nary everyday  life.  I  yearned  for  mental  tran- 
quillity, health,  fresh  air,  good  food.  I  was  becom- 
ing a  dreamer,  and,  like  a  dreamer,  I  did  not  know 
exactly  what  I  wanted.  Sometimes  I  felt  inclined 
to  go  into  a  monastery,  to  sit  there  for  days  together 
by  the  window  and  gaze  at  the  trees  and  the  fields; 
sometimes  I  fancied  I  would  buy  fifteen  acres  of 
land  and  settle  down  as  a  country  gentleman;  some- 
times I  inwardly  vowed  to  take  up  science  and  be- 
come a  professor  at  some  provincial  university.  I 
was  a  retired  navy  lieutenant;  I  dreamed  of  the  sea, 
of  our  squadron,  and  of  the  corvette  in  which  T  had 
made  the  cruise  round  the  world.  I  longed  to  ex- 
perience again  the  indescribable  feeling  when,  walk- 
ing in  the  tropical  forest  or  looking  at  the  sunset  in 

An  Anonymous  Story  179 

the  Bay  of  Bengal,  one  is  thrilled  with  ecstasy  and  at 
the  same  time  homesick.  L  dreamed  of  mountains, 
women,  music,  and,  with  the  curiosity  of  a  child,  I 
looked  into  people's  faces,  listened  to  their  voices. 
And  when  I  stood  at  the  door  and  watched  Orlov 
sipping  his  coffee,  1  felt  not  a  footman,  but  a  man 
interested  in  everything  in  the  world,  even  in  Orlov. 

In  appearance  Orlov  was  a  typical  Petersburger, 
with  narrow  shoulders,  a  long  waist,  sunken  temples, 
eyes  of  an  indefinite  colour,  and  scanty,  dingy-col- 
oured hair,  beard  and  moustaches.  His  face  had  a 
stale,  unpleasant  look,  though  it  was  studiously  cared 
for.  It  was  particularly  unpleasant  when  he  was 
asleep  or  lost  in  thought.  It  is  not  worth  while  de- 
scribing a  quite  ordinary  appearance;  besides,  Peters- 
burg is  not  Spain,  and  a  man's  appearance  Is  not  of 
much  consequence  even  In  love  affairs,  and  Is  only 
of  value  to  a  handsome  footman  or  coachman.  I 
have  spoken  of  Orlov's  face  and  hair  only  because 
there  was  something  In  his  appearance  worth  men- 
tioning. When  Orlov  took  a  newspaper  or  book, 
whatever  it  might  be,  or  met  people,  whoever  they 
might  be,  an  Ironical  smile  began  to  come  Into  his 
eyes,  and  his  whole  countenance  assumed  an  expres- 
sion of  light  mockery  in  which  there  was  no  malice. 
Before  reading  or  hearing  anything  he  always  had 
his  Irony  in  readiness,  as  a  savage  has  his  shield. 
It  was  an  habitual  Irony,  like  some  old  liquor  brewed 
years  ago,  and  now  it  came  Into  his  face  probably 
without  any  participation  of  his  will,  as  It  were  by 
reflex  action.     But  of  that  later. 

Soon  after  midday  he  took  his  portfolio,  full  of 

i8o  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

papers,  and  drove  to  his  office.  He  dined  away 
from  home  and  returned  after  eight  o'clock.  I  used 
to  light  the  lamp  and  candles  in  his  study,  and  he 
would  sit  down  in  a  low  chair  with  his  legs  stretched 
out  on  another  chair,  and,  reclining  in  that  position, 
would  begin  reading.  Almost  every  day  he  brought 
in  new  books  with  him  or  received  parcels  of  them 
from  the  shops,  and  there  were  heaps  of  books  in 
three  languages,  to  say  nothing  of  Russian,  which 
he  had  read  and  thrown  away,  in  the  corners  of  my 
room  and  under  my  bed.  He  read  with  extraordi- 
nary rapidity.  They  say:  "  Tell  me  what  you  read, 
and  I'll  tell  you  who  you  are."  That  may  be  true, 
but  It  was  absolutely  impossible  to  judge  of  Orlov 
by  what  he  read.  It  was  a  regular  hotchpotch. 
Philosophy,  French  novels,  political  economy, 
finance,  new  poets,  and  publications  of  the  firm 
Posrednik  * —  and  he  read  it  all  with  the  same  rapid- 
ity and  with  the  same  ironical  expression  in  his  eyes. 

After  ten  o'clock  he  carefully  dressed,  often  in 
evening  dress,  very  rarely  In  his  kammer-junker  s 
uniform,  and  went  out,  returning  in  the  morning. 

Our  relations  were  quiet  and  peaceful,  and  we 
never  had  any  misunderstanding.  As  a  rule  he  did 
not  notice  my  presence,  and  when  he  talked  to  me 
there  was  no  expression  of  Irony  on  his  face  —  he 
evidently  did  not  look  upon  me  as  a  human  being. 

I  only  once  saw  him  angry.  One  day  —  It  was 
a  week  after  I  had  entered  his  service  —  he  came 
back   from   some   dinner   at  nine   o'clock;   his    face 

*  I.e.,  Tchertkov   and   others,   publishers  of  Tolstoy,  who  issued 
good  literature  for  peasants'  reading. 

An  Anonymous  Story  181 

looked  ill-humoured  and  exhausted.  When  I  fol- 
lowed him  Into  his  study  to  light  the  candles,  he  said 
to  me: 

"  There's  a  nasty  smell  In  the  flat." 

*'  No,  the  air  Is  fresh,"  I  answered. 

"  I  tell  you,  there's  a  bad  smell,"  he  answered 

*'  I  open  the  movable  panes  every  day." 

*'  Don't  argue,  blockhead!  "  he  shouted. 

I  was  offended,  and  was  on  the  point  of  answer- 
ing, and  goodness  knows  how  it  would  have  ended 
if  Polya,  who  knew  her  master  better  than  I  did, 
had  not  intervened. 

*'  There  really  Is  a  disagreeable  smell,"  she  said, 
raising  her  eyebrows.  "What  can  It  be  from? 
Stepan,  open  the  pane  In  the  drawing-room,  and 
light  the  fire." 

With  much  bustle  and  many  exclamations,  she 
went  through  all  the  rooms,  rustling  her  skirts  and 
squeezing  the  sprayer  with  a  hissing  sound.  And 
Orlov  was  still  out  of  humour;  he  was  obviously  re- 
straining himself  not  to  vent  his  Ill-temper  aloud. 
He  was  sitting  at  the  table  and  rapidly  writing  a 
letter.  After  writing  a  few  lines  he  snorted  angrily 
and  tore  It  up,  then  he  began  writing  again. 

"  Damn  them  all!  "  he  muttered.  "  They  expect 
me  to  have  an  abnormal  memory!  " 

At  last  the  letter  was  written ;  he  got  up  from  the 
table  and  said,  turning  to  me : 

'*  Go  to  Znamensky  Street  and  deliver  this  letter 
to  ZInalda  Fyodorovna  Krasnovsky  In  person.  But 
first  ask  the  porter  whether  her  husband  —  that  Is, 

l82  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

Mr.  Krasnovsky  —  has  returned  yet.  If  he  has  re- 
turned, don't  dehver  the  letter,  but  come  back. 
Wait  a  minute  1  ...  If  she  asks  whether  I  have 
any  one  here,  tell  her  that  there  have  been  two  gentle- 
men here  since  eight  o'clock,  writing  something." 

I  drove  to  Znamensky  Street.  The  porter  told 
me  that  Mr.  Krasnovsky  had  not  yet  come  In,  and 
I  made  my  way  up  to  the  third  storey.  The  door 
was  opened  by  a  tall,  stout,  drab-coloured  flunkey 
with  black  whiskers,  who  in  a  sleepy,  churlish,  and 
apathetic  voice,  such  as  only  flunkeys  use  In  address- 
ing other  flunkeys,  asked  me  what  I  wanted.  Before 
I  had  time  to  answer,  a  lady  dressed  In  black  came 
hurriedly  Into  the  hall.  She  screwed  up  her  eyes 
and  looked  at  me. 

"  Is  ZInalda  Fyodorovna  at  home?  "  I  asked. 

*'  That  is  me,"  said  the  lady. 

"  A  letter  from  Georgy  Ivanltch." 

She  tore  the  letter  open  Impatiently,  and  holding 
it  In  both  hands,  so  that  I  saw  her  sparkling  diamond 
rings,  she  began  reading.  I  made  out  a  pale  face 
with  soft  lines,  a  prominent  chin,  and  long  dark 
lashes.  From  her  appearance  I  should  not  have 
judged  the  lady  to  be  more  than  five  and  twenty. 

"  Give  him  my  thanks  and  my  greetings,"  she  said 
when  she  had  finished  the  letter.  "  Is  there  any  one 
with  Georgy  Ivanltch?  "  she  asked  softly,  joyfully, 
and  as  though  ashamed  of  her  mistrust. 

"  Two  gentlemen,"  I  answered.  "  They're  writ- 
ing something." 

*'  Give  him  my  greetings  and  thanks,"  she  re- 
peated,  bending  her  head   sideways,   and,   reading 

An  Anonymous  Story  183 

the  letter  as  she  walked,  she  went  noiselessly  out. 
I  saw  few  women  at  that  time,  and  this  lady  of 
whom  I  had  a  passing  glimpse  made  an  impression 
on  me.  As  I  walked  home  I  recalled  her  face  and 
the  delicate  fragrance  about  her,  and  fell  to  dream- 
ing.    By  the  time  I  got  home  Orlov  had  gone  out. 


And  so  my  relations  with  my  employer  were  quiet 
and  peaceful,  but  still  the  unclean  and  degrading 
element  which  I  so  dreaded  on  becoming  a  footman 
was  conspicuous  and  made  itself  felt  every  day.  I 
did  not  get  on  with  Polya.  She  was  a  well-fed  and 
pampered  hussy  who  adored  Orlov  because  he  was 
a  gentleman  and  despised  me  because  I  was  a  foot- 
man. Probably,  from  the  point  of  view  of  a  real 
flunkey  or  cook,  she  was  fascinating,  with  her  red 
cheeks,  her  turned-up  nose,  her  coquettish  glances, 
and  the  plumpness,  one  might  almost  say  fatness,  of 
her  person.  She  powdered  her  face,  coloured  her 
lips  and  eyebrows,  laced  herself  in,  and  wore  a  bustle, 
and  a  bangle  made  of  coins.  She  walked  with  little 
tripping  steps;  as  she  walked  she  swayed,  or,  as  they 
say,  wriggled  her  shoulders  and  back.  The  rustle 
of  her  skirts,  the  creaking  of  her  stays,  the  jingle 
of  her  bangle  and  the  vulgar  smell  of  lip  salve,  toilet 
vinegar,  and  scent  stolen  from  her  master,  aroused 
in  me  whilst  I  was  doing  the  rooms  with  her  in  the 
morning  a  sensation  as  though  I  were  taking  part 
with  her  in  some  abomination. 

Either  because  I  did  not  steal  as  she  did,  or  be- 

i84  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

cause  I  displayed  no  desire  to  become  her  lover, 
which  she  probably  looked  upon  as  an  insult,  or  per- 
haps because  she  felt  that  I  was  a  man  of  a  different 
order,  she  hated  me  from  the  first  day.  My  Inex- 
perience, my  appearance  —  so  unlike  a  flunkey  — 
and  my  illness,  seemed  to  her  pitiful  and  excited  her 
disgust.  I  had  a  bad  cough  at  that  time,  and  some- 
times at  night  I  prevented  her  from  sleeping,  as  our 
rooms  were  only  divided  by  a  wooden  partition,  and 
every  morning  she  said  to  me : 

"  Again  you  didn't  let  me  sleep.  You  ought  to 
be  In  hospital  instead  of  in  service." 

She  so  genuinely  believed  that  I  was  hardly  a 
human  being,  but  something  infinitely  below  her,  that, 
like  the  Roman  matrons  who  were  not  ashamed  to 
bathe  before  their  slaves,  she  sometimes  went  about 
in  my  presence  In  nothing  but  her  chemise. 

Once  when  I  was  In  a  happy,  dreamy  mood,  I 
asked  her  at  dinner  (we  had  soup  and  roast  meat 
sent  in  from  a  restaurant  every  day)  : 

^*  Polya,  do  you  believe  in  God?  " 

"Why,  of  course!" 

**  Then,"  I  went  on,  "  you  believe  there  will  be 
a  day  of  judgment,  and  that  we  shall  have  to  answer 
to  God  for  every  evil  action?  " 

She  gave  me  no  reply,  but  simply  made  a  con- 
temptuous grimace,  and,  looking  that  time  at  her 
cold  eyes  and  over-fed  expression,  I  realised  that  for 
her  complete  and  finished  personality  no  God,  no 
conscience,  no  laws  existed,  and  that  if  I  had  had 
to  set  fire  to  the  house,  to  murder  or  to  rob,  I  could 
not  have  hired  a  better  accomplice. 

An  Anonymous  Story  185' 

In  my  novel  surroundings  I  felt  very  uncomfort- 
able for  the  first  week  at  Orlov's  before  I  got  used 
to  being  addressed  as  "  thou,"  and  being  constantly 
obliged  to  tell  lies  (saying  "  My  master  is  not  at 
home  "  when  he  was) .  In  my  flunkey's  swallow-tail 
I  felt  as  though  I  were  In  armour.  But  I  grew  ac- 
customed to  it  in  time.  Like  a  genuine  footman, 
I  waited  at  table,  tidied  the  rooms,  ran  and  drove 
about  on  errands  of  all  sorts.  When  Orlov  did  not 
want  to  keep  an  appointment  with  Zinaida  Fyodor- 
ovna,  or  when  he  forgot  that  he  had  promised  to 
go  and  see  her,  I  drove  to  Znamensky  Street,  put  a 
letter  into  her  hands  and  told  a  lie.  And  the  result 
of  it  all  was  quite  different  from  what  I  had  ex- 
pected when  I  became  a  footman.  Every  day  of 
this  new  life  of  mine  was  wasted  for  me  and  my 
cause,  as  Orlov  never  spoke  of  his  father,  nor  did 
his  visitors,  and  all  I  could  learn  of  the  stateman's 
doings  was,  as  before,  what  I  could  glean  from  the 
newspapers  or  from  correspondence  with  my  com- 
rades. The  hundreds  of  notes  and  papers  I  used 
to  find  In  the  study  and  read  had  not  the  remotest 
connection  with  what  I  was  looking  for.  Orlov  was 
absolutely  uninterested  in  his  father's  political  work, 
and  looked  as  though  he  had  never  heard  of  it,  or 
as  though  his  father  had  long  been  dead. 


Every  Thursday  we  had  visitors. 
I  ordered  a  piece  of  roast  beef  from  the  restaurant 
and  telephoned  to   Ellseyev's   to   send   us   caviare, 

.i86  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

cheese,  oysters,  and  so  on.  I  bought  playing-cards. 
Polya  was  busy  all  day  getting  ready  the  tea-things 
and  the  dinner  service.  To  tell  the  truth,  this  spurt 
of  activity  came  as  a  pleasant  change  in  our  idle  life, 
and  Thursdays  were  for  us  the  most  interesting  days. 
Only  three  visitors  used  to  come.  The  most  im- 
portant and  perhaps  the  most  interesting  was  the  one 
called  Pekarsky  —  a  tall,  lean  man  of  five  and  forty, 
with  a  long  hooked  nose,  with  a  big  black  beard, 
and  a  bald  patch  on  his  head.  His  eyes  were  large 
and  prominent,  and  his  expression  was  grave  and 
thoughtful  like  that  of  a  Greek  philosopher.  He 
was  on  the  board  of  management  of  some  railway, 
and  also  had  some  post  in  a  bank;  he  was  a  con- 
sulting lawyer  in  some  important  Government  in- 
stitution, and  had  business  relations  with  a  large 
number  of  private  persons  as  a  trustee,  chairman  of 
committees,  and  so  on.  He  was  of  quite  a  low  grade 
in  the  service,  and  modestly  spoke  of  himself  as  a 
lawyer,  but  he  had  a  vast  influence.  A  note  or  card 
from  him  was  enough  to  make  a  celebrated  doctor, 
a  director  of  a  railway,  or  a  great  dignitary  see 
any  one  without  waiting;  and  It  was  said  that  through 
his  protection  one  might  obtain  even  a  post  of  the 
Fourth  Class,  and  get  any  sort  of  unpleasant  busi- 
ness hushed  up.  He  was  looked  upon  as  a  very  in- 
telligent man,  but  his  was  a  strange,  peculiar  intelli- 
gence. He  was  able  to  multiply  213  by  373  in  his 
head  instantaneously,  or  turn  English  pounds  into 
German  marks  without  help  of  pencil  or  paper;  he 
understood  finance  and  railway  business  thoroughly, 
and  the  machinery  of  Russian  administration  had  no 

An  Anonymous  Story  187 

secrets  for  him;  he  was  a  most  skilful  pleader  in 
civil  suits,  and  it  was  not  easy  to  get  the  better  of 
him  at  law.  But  that  exceptional  intelligence  could 
not  grasp  many  things  which  are  understood  even  by 
some  stupid  people.  For  instance,  he  was  absolutely 
unable  to  understand  why  people  are  depressed,  why 
they  weep,  shoot  themselves,  and  even  kill  others; 
why  they  fret  about  things  that  do  not  affect  them 
personally,  and  why  they  laugh  when  they  read 
Gogol  or  Shtchedrin.  .  .  .  Everything  abstract, 
everything  belonging  to  the  domain  of  thought  and 
feeling,  was  to  him  boring  and  incomprehensible, 
like  music  to  one  who  has  no  ear.  He  looked  at 
people  simply  from  the  business  point  of  view,  and 
divided  them  into  competent  and  incompetent.  No 
other  classification  existed  for  him.  Honesty  and 
rectitude  were  only  signs  of  competence.  Drinking, 
gambling,  and  debauchery  were  permissible,  but 
must  not  be  allowed  to  interfere  with  business.  Be- 
lieving in  God  was  rather  stupid,  but  religion  ought 
to  be  safeguarded,  as  the  common  people  must  have 
some  principle  to  restrain  them,  otherwise  they 
would  not  work.  Punishment  is  only  necessary  as 
a  deterrent.  There  was  no  need  to  go  away  for 
holidays,  as  it  was  just  as  nice  in  town.  And  so  on. 
He  was  a  widower  and  had  no  children,  but  lived 
on  a  large  scale,  as  though  he  had  a  family,  and  paid 
three  thousand  roubles  a  year  for  his  flat. 

The  second  visitor,  Kukushkin,  an  actual  civil 
councillor  though  a  young  man,  was  short,  and  was 
conspicuous  for  his  extremely  unpleasant  appearance, 
which  was  due  to  the  disproportion  between  his  fat, 

i88  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

puffy  body  and  his  lean  little  face.  His  lips  were 
puckered  up  suavely,  and  his  little  trimmed  mous- 
taches looked  as  though  they  had  been  fixed  on  with 
glue.  He  was  a  man  with  the  manners  of  a  lizard. 
He  did  not  walk,  but,  as  it  were,  crept  along  with  tiny 
steps,  squirming  and  sniggering,  and  when  he 
laughed  he  s'howed  his  teeth.  He  was  a  clerk  on 
special  commissions,  and  did  nothing,  though  he  re- 
ceived a  good  salary,  especially  in  the  summer,  when 
special  and  lucrative  jobs  were  found  for  him.  He 
was  a  man  of  personal  ambition,  not  only  to  the 
marrow  of  his  bones,  but  more  fundamentally  — 
to  the  last  drop  of  his  blood;  but  even  in  his  am- 
bitions he  was  petty  and  did  not  rely  on  himself,  but 
was  building  his  career  on  the  chance  favour  flung 
him  by  his  superiors.  For  the  sake  of  obtaining 
some  foreign  decoration,  or  for  the  sake  of  having 
his  name  mentioned  in  the  newspapers  as  having 
been  present  at  some  special  service  in  the  company 
of  other  great  personages,  he  was  ready  to  submit 
to  any  kind  of  humiliation,  to  beg,  to  flatter,  to 
promise.  He  flattered  Orlov  and  Pekarsky  from 
cowardice,  because  he  thought  they  were  powerful; 
he  flattered  Polya  and  me  because  we  were  in  the 
service  of  a  powerful  man.  Whenever  I  took  off 
his  fur  coat  he  tittered  and  asked  me:  "  Stepan, 
are  you  married?"  and  then  unseemly  vulgarities 
followed  —  by  way  of  showing  me  special  attention. 
Kukushkin  flattered  Orlov's  weaknesses,  humoured 
his  corrupted  and  blase  ways;  to  please  him  he 
affected  malicious  raillery  and  atheism,  in  his  com- 
pany   criticised    persons    before    whom    in    other 

An  Anonymous  Story  189 

places  he  would  slavishly  grovel.  When  at  supper 
they  talked  of  love  and  women,  he  pretended  to  be 
a  subtle  and  perverse  voluptuary.  As  a  rule,  one 
may  say,  Petersburg  rakes  are  fond  of  talking  of 
their  abnormal  tastes.  Some  young  actual  civil 
councillor  is  perfectly  satisfied  with  the  embraces  of 
his  cook  or  of  some  unhappy  street-walker  on  the 
Nevsky  Prospect,  but  to  listen  to  him  you  would 
think  he  was  contaminated  by  all  the  vices  of  East 
and  West  combined,  that  he  was  an  honourary  mem- 
ber of  a  dozen  Iniquitous  secret  societies  and  was 
already  marked  by  the  pohce.  Kukushkin  lied  about 
himself  in  an  unconscionable  way,  and  they  did  not 
exactly  disbelieve  him,  but  paid  little  heed  to  his 
incredible  stories. 

The  third  guest  was  Gruzin,  the  son  of  a  worthy 
and  learned  general;  a  man  of  Orlov's  age,  with 
long  hair,  short-sighted  eyes,  and  gold  spectacles.  I 
remember  his  long  white  fingers,  that  looked  like  a 
pianist's;  and,  indeed,  there  was  something  of  a 
musician,  of  a  virtuoso,  about  his  whole  figure.  The 
first  violins  in  orchestras  look  just  like  that.  Fie 
used  to  cough,  suffered  from  migraine,  and  seemed 
altogether  invalidish  and  delicate.  Probably  at 
home  he  was  dressed  and  undressed  like  a  baby. 
He  had  finished  at  the  College  of  Jurisprudence,  and 
had  at  first  served  in  the  Department  of  Justice,  then 
he  was  transferred  to  the  Senate;  he  left  that,  and 
through  patronage  had  received  a  post  in  the  De- 
partment of  Crown  Estates,  and  had  soon  afterwards 
given  that  up.  In  my  time  he  was  serving  in  Orlov's 
department;  he  was  his  head-clerk,  but  he  said  that 

igo  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

he  should  soon  exchange  into  the  Department  of 
Justice  again.  He  took  his  duties  and  his  shifting 
about  from  one  post  to  another  with  exceptional 
levity,  and  when  people  talked  before  him  seriously 
of  grades  in  the  service,  decorations,  salaries,  he 
smiled  good-naturedly  and  repeated  Prutkov's  aphor- 
ism: "It's  only  in  the  Government  service  you 
learn  the  truth."  He  had  a  little  wife  with  a  wrin- 
kled face,  who  was  very  jealous  of  him,  and  five 
weedy-looking  children.  He  was  unfaithful  to  his 
wife,  he  was  only  fond  of  his  children  when  he  saw 
them,  and  on  the  whole  was  rather  indifferent  to  his 
family,  and  made  fun  of  them.  He  and  his  family 
existed  on  credit,  borrowing  wherever  they  could  at 
every  opportunity,  even  from  his  superiors  in  the 
office  and  porters  in  people's  houses.  His  was  a 
flabby  nature;  he  was  so  lazy  that  he  did  not  care 
what  became  of  himself,  and  drifted  along  heedless 
where  or  why  he  was  going.  He  went  where  he  was 
taken.  If  he  was  taken  to  some  low  haunt,  he  went; 
if  wine  was  set  before  him,  he  drank  —  if  it  were  not 
put  before  him,  he  abstained;  if  wives  were  abused 
in  his  presence,  he  abused  his  wife,  declaring  she 
had  ruined  his  life  —  when  wives  were  praised,  he 
praised  his  and  said  quite  sincerely:  "I  am  very 
fond  of  her,  poor  thing!  "  He  had  no  fur  coat 
and  always  wore  a  rug  which  smelt  of  the  nursery. 
When  at  supper  he  rolled  balls  of  bread  and  drank 
a  great  deal  of  red  wine,  absorbed  in  thought, 
strange  to  say,  I  used  to  feel  almost  certain  that 
there  was  something  in  him  of  which  perhaps  he 
had  a  vague  sense,  though  in  the  bustle  and  vulgarity 

An  Anonymous  Story  191 

of  his  daily  life  he  had  not  time  to  understand  and 
appreciate  it.  He  played  a  little  on  the  piano. 
Sometimes  he  would  sit  down  at  the  piano,  play  a 
chord  or  two,  and  begin  singing  softly: 

"  What  does  the  coming  day  bring  to  me  ?  " 

But  at  once,  as  though  afraid,  he  would  get  up  and 
walk  from  the  piano. 

The  visitors  usually  arrived  about  ten  o'clock. 
They  played  cards  in  Orlov's  study,  and  Polya  and 
I  handed  them  tea.  It  was  only  on  these  occasions 
that  I  could  gauge  the  full  sweetness  of  a  flunkey's 
life.  Standing  for  four  or  five  hours  at  the  door, 
watching  that  no  one's  glass  should  be  empty,  chang- 
ing the  ash-trays,  running  to  the  table  to  pick  up  the 
chalk  or  a  card  when  it  was  dropped,  and,  above  all, 
standing,  waiting,  being  attentive  without  venturing 
to  speak,  to  cough,  to  smile  —  is  harder,  I  assure 
you,  is  harder  than  the  hardest  of  field  labour.  I 
have  stood  on  watch  at  sea  for  four  hours  at  a 
stretch  on  stormy  winter  nights,  and  to  my  thinking 
it  is  an  infinitely  easier  duty. 

They  used  to  play  cards  till  two,  sometimes  till 
three  o'clock  at  night,  and  then,  stretching,  they 
would  go  into  the  dining-room  to  supper,  or,  as 
Orlov  said,  for  a  snack  of  something.  At  supper 
there  was  conversation.  It  usually  began  by  Orlov's 
speaking  with  laughing  eyes  of  some  acquaintance, 
of  some  book  he  had  lately  been  reading,  of  a  new 
appointment  or  Government  scheme.  Kukushkin, 
always  ingratiating,  would  fall  into  his  tone,  and 
what  followed  was  to  me,  in  my  mood  at  that  time. 

192  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

a  revolting  exhibition.  The  Irony  of  Orlov  and  his 
friends  knew  no  bounds,  and  spared  no  one  and 
nothing.  If  they  spoke  of  religion,  it  was  with 
irony;  they  spoke  of  philosophy,  of  the  significance 
and  object  of  life  —  irony  again,  if  any  one  began 
about  the  peasantry,  it  was  with  irony. 

There  is  in  Petersburg  a  species  of  men  whose 
speciality  it  is  to  jeer  at  every  aspect  of  life;  they 
cannot  even  pass  by  a  starving  man  or  a  suicide  with- 
out saying  something  vulgar.  But  Orlov  and  his 
friends  did  not  jeer  or  make  jokes,  they  talked  ironi- 
cally. They  used  to  say  that  there  was  no  God,  and 
personality  was  completely  lost  at  death;  the  immor- 
tals only  existed  in  the  French  Academy.  Real  good 
did  not  and  could  not  possibly  exist,  as  Its  existence 
was  conditional  upon  human  perfection,  which  was  a 
logical  absurdity.  Russia  was  a  country  as  poor  and 
dull  as  Persia.  The  Intellectual  class  was  hopeless; 
in  Pekarsky's  opinion  the  overwhelming  majority  in 
It  were  incompetent  persons,  good  for  nothing.  The 
people  were  drunken,  lazy,  thievish,  and  degenerate. 
We  had  no  science,  our  literature  was  uncouth,  our 
commerce  rested  on  swindling — "No  selling  with- 
out cheating."  And  everything  was  In  that  style, 
and  everything  was  a  subject  for  laughter. 

Towards  the  end  of  supper  the  wine  made  them 
more  good-humoured,  and  they  passed  to  more 
lively  conversation.  They  laughed  over  Gruzln's 
family  life,  over  Kukushkin's  conquests,  or  at 
Pekarsky,  who  had,  they  said,  In  his  account  book 
one  page  headed  Charity  and  another  Physiological 
Necessities.     They  said  that  no  wife  was  faithful; 

An  Anonymous  Story  193 

that  there  was  no  wife  from  whom  one  could  not, 
with  practice,  obtain  caresses  without  leaving  her 
drawing-room  while  her  husband  was  sitting  in  his 
study  close  by;  that  girls  in  their  teens  were  per- 
verted and  knew  everything.  Orlov  had  preserved 
a  letter  of  a  schoolgirl  of  fourteen :  on  her  way  home 
from  school  she  had  ''  hooked  an  officer  on  the 
Nevsky,"  who  had,  it  appears,  taken  her  home  with 
him,  and  had  only  let  her  go  late  in  the  evening;  and 
she  hastened  to  write  about  this  to  her  school  friend 
to  share  her  joy  with  her.  They  maintained  that 
there  was  not  and  never  had  been  such  a  thing  as 
moral  purity,  and  that  evidently  it  was  unnecessary; 
mankind  had  so  far  done  very  well  without  it.  The 
harm  done  by  so-called  vice  was  undoubtedly  exag- 
gerated. Vices  which  are  punished  by  our  legal 
code  had  not  prevented  Diogenes  from  being  a  phi- 
losopher and  a  teacher.  Caesar  and  Cicero  were 
profligates  and  at  the  same  time  great  men.  Cato 
in  his  old  age  married  a  young  girl,  and  yet  he  was 
regarded  as  a  great  ascetic  and  a  pillar  of  morality. 
At  three  or  four  o'clock  the  party  broke  up  or 
they  went  off  together  out  of  town,  or  to  Officers' 
Street,  to  the  house  of  a  certain  Varvara  Ossipovna, 
while  I  retired  to  my  quarters,  and  was  kept  awake 
a  long  while  by  coughing  and  headache. 


Three  weeks  after  I  entered  Orlov's  service  — 
it  was  Sunday  morning,  I  remember  —  somebody 
rang  the  bell.     It  was  not  yet  eleven,  and  Orlov 

194  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

was  still  asleep.  I  went  to  open  the  door.  You  can 
imagine  my  astonishment  when  I  found  a  lady  in 
a  veil  standing  at  the  door  on  the  landing. 

"  Is  Georgy  Ivanitch  up?  "  she  asked. 

From  her  voice  I  recognised  Zinaida  Fyodorovna, 
to  whom  I  had  taken  letters  in  Znamensky  Street. 
I  don't  remember  whether  I  had  time  or  self-posses- 
sion to  answer  her  —  I  was  taken  aback  at  seeing 
her.  And,  indeed,  she  did  not  need  my  answer. 
In  a  flash  she  had  darted  by  me,  and,  filling  the  hall 
with  the  fragrance  of  her  perfume,  which  I  remem- 
ber to  this  day,  she  went  on,  and  her  footsteps  died 
away.  For  at  least  half  an  hour  afterwards  I  heard 
nothing.  But  again  some  one  rang.  This  time  it 
was  a  smartly  dressed  girl,  who  looked  like  a  maid 
in  a  wealthy  family,  accompanied  by  our  house  por- 
ter. Both  were  out  of  breath,  carrying  two  trunks 
and  a  dress-basket. 

"  These  are  for  Zinaida  Fyodorovna,"  said  the 

And  she  went  down  without  saying  another  word. 
All  this  was  mysterious,  and  made  Polya,  who  had  a 
deep  admiration  for  the  pranks  of  her  betters,  smile 
slyly  to  herself;  she  looked  as  though  she  would  like 
to  say,  "  So  that's  what  we're  up  to,"  and  she  walked 
about  the  whole  time  on  tiptoe.  At  last  we  heard 
footsteps;  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  came  quickly  into  the 
hall,  and  seeing  me  at  the  door  of  my  room,  said: 

*'  Stepan,  take  Georgy  Ivanitch  his  things." 

When  I  went  in  to  Orlov  with  his  clothes  and 
his  boots,  he  was  sitting  on  the  bed  with  his  feet 
on  the  bearskin  rug.     There  was  an  air  of  embar- 

An  Anonymous  Story  195 

rassment  about  his  whole  figure.  He  did  not  notice 
me,  and  my  menial  opinion  did  not  interest  him;  he 
was  evidently  perturbed  and  embarrassed  before 
himself,  before  his  inner  eye.  He  dressed,  washed, 
and  used  his  combs  and  brushes  silently  and  deliber- 
ately, as  though  allowing  himself  time  to  think  over 
his  position  and  to  reflect,  and  even  from  his  back 
one  could  see  he  was  troubled  and  dissatisfied  with 

They  drank  coffee  together.  Zinaida  Fyodor- 
ovna  poured  out  coffee  for  herself  and  for  Orlov, 
then  she  put  her  elbows  on  the  table  and  laughed. 

"  I  still  can't  believe  it,"  she  said.  ''  When  one 
has  been  a  long  while  on  one's  travels  and  reaches 
a  hotel  at  last,  it's  difficult  to  believe  that  one  hasn't 
to  go  on.     It  is  pleasant  to  breathe  freely." 

With  the  expression  of  a  child  who  very  much 
wants  to  be  mischievous,  she  sighed  with  relief  and 
laughed  again. 

"  You  will  excuse  me,"  said  Orlov,  nodding  to- 
wards the  coffee.  *'  Reading  at  breakfast  is  a  habit 
I  can't  get  over.  But  I  can  do  two  things  at  once 
—  read  and  listen." 

'*  Read  away.  .  ,  .  You  shall  keep  your  habits 
and  your  freedom.  But  why  do  you  look  so  solemn  ? 
Are  you  always  like  that  in  the  morning,  or  is  it 
only  to-day?     Aren't  you  glad?  " 

*'  Yes,  I  am.  But  I  must  own  I  am  a  little  over- 

"  Why?  You  had  plenty  of  time  to  prepare  your- 
self for  my  descent  upon  you.  I've  been  threaten- 
ing to  come  every  day." 

196  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

*'  Yes,  but  I  didn't  expect  you  to  carry  out  your 
threat  to-day." 

"  I  didn't  expect  it  myself,  but  that's  all  the  better. 
It's  all  the  better,  my  dear.  It's  best  to  have  an 
aching  tooth  out  and  have  done  with  it." 

"  Yes,  of  course." 

*'  Oh,  my  dear,"  she  said,  closing  her  eyes,  "  all 
is  well  that  ends  well;  but  before  this  happy  ending, 
what  suffering  there  has  been !  My  laughing  means 
nothing;  I  am  glad,  I  am  happy,  but  I  feel  more  like 
crying  than  laughing.  Yesterday  I  had  to  fight  a 
regular  battle,"  she  went  on  in  French.  "  God  alone 
knows  how  wretched  I  was.  But  I  laugh  because 
I  can't  believe  in  it.  I  keep  fancying  that  my  sit- 
ting here  drinking  coffee  with  you  is  not  real,  but 
a  dream." 

Then,  still  speaking  French,  she  described  how 
she  had  broken  with  her  husband  the  day  before, 
and  her  eyes  were  alternately  full  of  tears  and  of 
laughter  while  she  gazed  with  rapture  at  Orlov. 
She  told  him  her  husband  had  long  suspected  her, 
but  had  avoided  explanations;  they  had  frequent 
quarrels,  and  usually  at  the  most  heated  moment 
he  would  suddenly  subside  into  silence  and  depart 
to  his  study  for  fear  that  in  his  exasperation  he  might 
give  utterance  to  his  suspicions  or  she  might  herself 
begin  to  speak  openly.  And  she  had  felt  guilty, 
worthless,  incapable  of  taking  a  bold  and  serious 
step,  and  that  had  made  her  hate  herself  and  her 
husband  more  every  day,  and  she  had  suffered  the 
torments  of  hell.  But  the  day  before,  when  during 
a  quarrel  he  had  cried  out  in  a  tearful  voice,  "  My 

An  Anonymous  Story  197 

God,  when  will  it  end?  "  and  had  walked  off  to  his 
study,  she  had  run  after  him  like  a  cat  after  a  mouse, 
and,  preventing  him  from  shutting  the  door,  she  had 
cried  that  she  hated  him  with  her  whole  soul.  Then 
he  let  her  come  into  the  study  and  she  had  told  him 
everything,  had  confessed  that  she  loved  some  one 
else,  that  that  some  one  else  was  her  real,  most  law- 
ful husband,  and  that  she  thought  it  her  true  duty 
to  go  away  to  him  that  very  day,  whatever  might 
happen,  if  she  were  to  be  shot  for  it. 

"  There's  a  very  romantic  streak  in  you,"  Orlov 
interrupted,  keeping  his  eyes  fixed  on  the  newspaper. 

She  laughed  and  went  on  talking  without  touch- 
ing her  coffee.  Her  cheeks  glowed  and  she  was  a 
little  embarrassed  by  it,  and  she  looked  In  confusion 
at  Polya  and  me.  From  what  she  went  on  to  say 
I  learnt  that  her  husband  had  answered  her  with 
threats,  reproaches,  and  finally  tears,  and  that  it 
would  "have  been  more  accurate  to  say  that  she,  and 
not  he,  had  been  the  attacking  party. 

''  Yes,  my  dear,  so  long  as  I  was  worked  up, 
everything  went  all  right,"  she  told  Orlov;  "but  as 
night  came  on,  my  spirits  sank.  You  don't  believe 
in  God,  George,  but  I  do  believe  a  little,  and  I  fear 
retribution.  God  requires  of  us  patience,  magna- 
nimity, self-sacrifice,  and  here  I  am  refusing  to  be 
patient  and  want  to  remodel  my  life  to  suit  myself. 
Is  that  right?  What  If  from  the  point  of  view  of 
God  it's  wrong?  At  two  o'clock  in  the  night  my 
husband  came  to  me  and  said :  '  You  dare  not  go 
away.  I'll  fetch  you  back  through  the  police  and 
make  a  scandal.'     And  soon  afterwards  I  saw  him 


The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

like  a  shadow  at  my  door.  '  Have  mercy  on  me ! 
Your  elopement  may  injure  me  in  the  service.' 
Those  words  had  a  coarse  effect  upon  me  and  made 
me  feel  stiff  all  over.  I  felt  as  though  the  retribu- 
tion were  beginning  already;  1  began  crying  and 
trembling  with  terror.  I  felt  as  though  the  ceiling 
would  fall  upon  me,  that  I  should  be  dragged  off 
to  the  police-station  at  once,  that  you  would  grow 
cold  to  me  —  all  sorts  of  things,  in  fact!  I  thought 
I  would  go  into  a  nunnery  or  become  a  nurse,  and 
give  up  all  thought  of  happiness,  but  then  I  remem- 
bered that  you  loved  me,  and  that  I  had  no  right  to 
dispose  of  myself  without  your  knowledge;  and 
everything  in  my  mind  was  in  a  tangle  —  I  was  in 
despair  and  did  not  know  what  to  do  or  think. 
But  the  sun  rose  and  I  grew  happier.  As  soon  as 
it  was  morning  I  dashed  off  to  you.  Ah,  what  I've 
been  through,  dear  one !  I  haven't  slept  for  two 
nights!  " 

She  was  tired  out  and  excited.  She  was  sleepy, 
and  at  the  same  time  she  wanted  to  talk -endlessly, 
to  laugh  and  to  cry,  and  to  go  to  a  restaurant  to 
lunch  that  she  might  feel  her  freedom. 

"  You  have  a  cosy  flat,  but  I  am  afraid  it  may 
be  small  for  the  two  of  us,"  she  said,  walking  rapidly 
through  all  the  rooms  when  they  had  finished  break- 
fast. "What  room  will  you  give  me?  I  like  this 
one  because  it  is  next  to  your  study." 

At  one  o'clock  she  changed  her  dress  in  the  room 
next  to  the  study,  which  from  that  time  she  called 
hers,  and  she  went  off  with  Orlov  to  lunch.  They 
dined,  too,  at  a  restaurant,  and  spent  the  long  in- 

An  Anonymous  Story  199 

terval  between  lunch  and  dinner  In  shopping.  Till 
late  at  night  I  was  opening  the  door  to  messengers 
and  errand-boys  from  the  shops.  They  bought, 
among  other  things,  a  splendid  pier-glass,  a  dressing- 
table,  a  bedstead,  and  a  gorgeous  tea  service  which 
we  did  not  need.  They  bought  a  regular  collection 
of  copper  saucepans,  which  we  set  in  a  row  on  the 
shelf  In  our  cold,  empty  kitchen.  As  we  were  un- 
packing the  tea  service  Polya's  eyes  gleamed,  and 
she  looked  at  me  two  or  three  times  with  hatred 
and  fear  that  I,  not  she,  would  be  the  first  to  steal 
one  of  these  charming  cups.  A  lady's  writing-table, 
very  expensive  and  Inconvenient,  came  too.  It  was 
evident  that  ZInaida  Fyodorovna  contemplated 
settling  with  us  for  good,  and  meant  to  make  the 
flat  her  home. 

She  came  back  with  Orlov  between  nine  and  ten. 
Full  of  proud  consciousness  that  she  had  done  some- 
thing bold  and  out  of  the  common,  passionately  in 
love,  and,  as  she  imagined,  passionately  loved,  ex- 
hausted, looking  forward  to  a  sweet  sound  sleep, 
ZInaida  Fyodorovna  was  revelling  in  her  new  life. 
She  squeezed  her  hands  together  In  the  excess  of 
her  joy,  declared  that  everything  was  delightful,  and 
swore  that  she  would  love  Orlov  for  ever;  and  these 
vows,  and  the  naive,  almost  childish  confidence  that 
she  too  was  deeply  loved  and  would  be  loved  for 
ever,  made  her  at  least  five  years  younger.  She 
talked  charming  nonsense  and  laughed  at  herself. 

*'  There's  no  other  blessing  greater  than  free- 
dom!" she  said,  forcing  herself  to  say  something 
serious  and  edifying.     "  How  absurd  it  is  when  you 

200  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

think  of  it  I  We  attach  no  value  to  our  own  opinion 
even  when  it  is  wise,  but  tremble  before  the  opinion 
of  all  sorts  of  stupid  people.  Up  to  the  last  minute 
I  was  afraid  of  what  other  people  would  say,  but 
as  soon  as  I  followed  my  own  instinct  and  made  up 
my  mind  to  go  my  own  way,  my  eyes  were  opened, 
I  overcame  my  silly  fears,  and  now  I  am  happy  and 
wish  every  one  could  be  as  happy!  " 

But  her  thoughts  immediately  took  another  turn, 
and  she  began  talking  of  another  flat,  of  wallpapers, 
horses,  a  trip  to  Switzerland  and  Italy.  Orlov  was 
tired  by  the  restaurants  and  the  shops,  and  was  still 
suffering  from  the  same  uneasiness  that  I  had  noticed 
in  the  morning.  He  smiled,  but  more  from  polite- 
ness than  pleasure,  and  when  she  spoke  of  anything 
seriously,  he  agreed  ironically:     "Oh,  yes." 

"  Stepan,  make  haste  and  find  us  a  good  cook," 
she  said  to  me. 

"  There's  no  need  to  be  in  a  hurry  over  the  kitchen 
arrangements,"  said  Orlov,  looking  at  me  coldly. 
*'  We  must  first  move  into  another  flat." 

We  had  never  had  cooking  done  at  home  nor  kept 
horses,  because,  as  he  said,  "  he  did  not  like  disorder 
about  him,"  and  only  put  up  with  having  Polya  and 
me  in  his  flat  from  necessity.  The  so-called  domes- 
tic hearth  with  its  everyday  joys  and  its  petty  cares 
offended  his  taste  as  vulgarity;  to  be  with  child,  or 
to  have  children  and  talk  about  them,  was  bad  form, 
like  a  petty  bourgeois.  And  I  began  to  feel  very 
curious  to  see  how  these  two  creatures  would  get 
on  together  in  one  flat  —  she,  domestic  and  home- 
loving  with  her  copper  saucepans  and  her  dreams  of 

An  Anonymous  Story  201 

a  good  cook  and  horses;  and  he,  fond  of  sayuig  to 
his  friends  that  a  decent  and  orderly  man's  flat  ought, 
like  a  warship,  to  have  nothing  in  it  superfluous  — 
no  women,  no  children,  no  rags,  no  kitchen  utensils. 


Then  I  will  tell  you  what  happened  the  follow- 
ing Thursday.  That  day  Zinaida  Fyodorovna 
dined  at  Content's  or  Donon's.  Orlov  returned 
home  alone,  and  Zinaida  Fyodorovna,  as  1  learnt 
afterwards,  went  to  the  Petersburg  Side  to  spend 
with  her  old  governess  the  time  visitors  were  with 
us.  Orlov  did  not  care  to  show  her  to  his  friends. 
I  realised  that  at  breakfast,  when  he  began  assuring 
her  that  for  the  sake  of  her  peace  of  mind  it  was 
essential  to  give  up  his  Thursday  evenings. 

As  usual  the  visitors  arrived  at  almost  the  same 

"Is  your  mistress  at  home,  too?"  Kukushkin 
asked  me  In  a  whisper. 

"  No,  sir,"  I  answered. 

He  went  in  with  a  sly,  oily  look  In  his  eyes,  smiling 
mysteriously,  rubbing  his  hands,  which  were  cold 
from  the  frost. 

"  I  have  the  honour  to  congratulate  you,"  he  said 
to  Orlov,  shaking  all  over  with  Ingratiating,  obse- 
quious laughter.  "  May  you  increase  and  multiply 
like  the  cedars  of  Lebanon." 

The  visitors  went  into  the  bedroom,  and  were  ex- 
tremely jocose  on  the  subject  of  a  pair  of  feminine 
slippers,  the  rug  that  had  been  put  down  between 

202  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

the  two  beds,  and  a  grey  dressing-jacket  that  hung 
at  the   foot  of  the  bedstead.     They  were   amused 
that  the  obstinate  man  who  despised  all  the  common 
place  details  of  love  had  been  caught  In  feminine 
snares  in  such  a  simple  and  ordinary  way. 

"  He  who  pointed  the  finger  of  scorn  is  bowing 
the  knee  In  homage,"  Kukushkin  repeated  several 
times.  He  had,  I  may  say  In  parenthesis,  an  un- 
pleasant habit  of  adorning  his  conversation  with 
texts  In  Church  Slavonic.  ''  Sh-sh !  "  he  said  as  they 
went  from  the  bedroom  Into  the  room  next  to  the 
study.  '*  Sh-sh !  Here  Gretchen  is  dreaming  of 
her  Faust." 

He  went  off  Into  a  peal  of  laughter  as  though 
he  had  said  something  very  amusing.  I  watched 
Gruzin,  expecting  that  his  musical  soul  would  not 
endure  this  laughter,  but  I  was  mistaken.  His  thin, 
good-natured  face  beamed  with  pleasure.  When 
they  sat  down  to  play  cards,  he,  lisping  and  choking 
with  laughter,  said  that  all  that  "  dear  George  " 
wanted  to  complete  his  domestic  felicity  was  a  cherry- 
wood  pipe  and  a  guitar.  Pekarsky  laughed  sedately, 
but  from  his  serious  expression  one  could  see  that 
Orlov's  new  love  affair  was  distasteful  to  him.  He 
did  not  understand  what  had  happened  exactly. 

"  But  how  about  the  husband?  "  he  asked  In  per- 
plexity, after  they  had  played  three  rubbers. 

*'  I  don't  know,"  answered  Orlov. 

Pekarsky  combed  his  big  beard  with  his  fingers 
and  sank  Into  thought,  and  he  did  not  speak  again 
till  supper-time.  When  they  were  seated  at  supper, 
he  began  deliberately,  drawling  every  word : 

An  Anonymous  Story  203 

"  Altogether,  excuse  my  saying  so,  I  don't  under- 
stand either  of  you.  You  might  love  each  other  and 
break  the  seventh  commandment  to  your  heart's  con- 
tent—  that  I  understand.  Yes,  that's  comprehensi- 
ble. But  why  make  the  husband  a  party  to  your 
secrets?     Was  there  any  need  for  that?  " 

"  But  does  it  make  any  difference?  " 

*'Hm!  .  .  ."  Pekarsky  mused.  "Well,  then, 
let  me  tell  you  this,  my  friend,"  he  went  on,  evi- 
dently thinking  hard:  "  if  I  ever  marry  again  and 
you  take  it  into  your  head  to  seduce  my  wife,  please 
do  it  so  that  I  don't  notice  it.  It's  much  more 
honest  to  deceive  a  man  than  to  break  up  his  family 
life  and  injure  his  reputation.  I  understand.  You 
both  imagine  that  in  living  together  openly  you  are 
doing  something  exceptionally  honourable  and  ad- 
vanced, but  I  can't  agree  with  that  .  .  .  what  shall 
I  call  It?  .   .   .  romantic  attitude?" 

Orlov  made  no  reply.  He  was  out  of  humour 
and  disinclined  to  talk.  Pekarsky,  still  perplexed, 
drummed  on  the  table  with  his  fingers,  thought  a 
little,  and  said: 

"  I  don't  understand  you,  all  the  same.  You  are 
not  a  student  and  she  Is  not  a  dressmaker.  You  are 
both  of  you  people  with  means.  I  should  have 
thought  you  might  have  arranged  a  separate  flat  for 

"  No,  I  couldn't.     Read  Turgenev." 

"Why  should  I  read  him?  I  have  read  him 
already.  " 

"  Turgenev  teaches  us  in  his  novels  that  every 
exalted,   noble-minded  girl  should  follow  the  man 

204  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

she  loves  to  the  ends  of  the  earth,  and  should  serve 
his  Idea,"  said  Orlov,  screwing  up  his  eyes  ironically. 
"  The  ends  of  the  earth  are  poetic  license;  the  earth 
and  all  Its  ends  can  be  reduced  to  the  flat  of  the  man 
she  loves.  .  .  .  And  so  not  to  live  In  the  same  flat 
with  the  woman  who  loves  you  is  to  deny  her  her  ex- 
alted vocation  and  to  refuse  to  share  her  ideals. 
Yes,  my  dear  fellow,  Turgenev  wrote,  and  I  have  to 
suffer  for  it." 

*'  What  Turgenev  has  got  to  do  with  it  I  don't 
understand,"  said  Gruzin  softly,  and  he  shrugged 
his  shoulders.  "  Do  you  remember,  George,  how 
In  *  Three  Meetings '  he  is  walking  late  in  the 
evening  somewhere  In  Italy,  and  suddenly  hears, 
'  Fieni  pensando  a  me  segretamente,^  ^'  Gruzin 
hummed.     "  It's  fine." 

"  But  she  hasn't  come  to  settle  with  you  by  force," 
said  Pekarsky.     "  It  was  your  own  wish." 

"What  next!  Far  from  wishing  it,  I  never 
imagined  that  this  would  ever  happen.  When  she 
said  she  was  coming  to  live  with  me,  I  thought  it 
was  a  charming  joke  on  her  part." 

Everybody  laughed. 

"  I  couldn't  have  wished  for  such  a  thing,"  said 
Orlov  In  the  tone  of  a  man  compelled  to  justify 
himself.  "  I  am  not  a  Turgenev  hero,  and  If  I  ever 
wanted  to  free  Bulgaria  I  shouldn't  need  a  lady's 
company.  I  look  upon  love  primarily  as  a  necessity 
of  my  physical  nature,  degrading  and  antagonistic 
to  my  spirit;  It  must  either  be  satisfied  with  discre- 
tion or  renounced  altogether,  otherwise  it  will  bring 
into  one's  life  elements  as  unclean  as  itself.     For  it 

An  Anonymous  Story  205 

to  be  an  enjoyment  and  not  a  torment,  I  will  try  to 
make  it  beautiful  and  to  surround  it  with  a  mass  of 
illusions.  I  should  never  go  and  see  a  woman  unless 
1  were  sure  beforehand  that  she  would  be  beautiful 
and  fascinating;  and  I  should  never  go  unless  I  were 
in  the  mood.  And  it  is  only  in  that  way  that  we 
succeed  in  deceiving  one  another,  and  fancying  that 
we  are  in  love  and  happy.  But  can  I  wish  for  cop- 
per saucepans  and  untidy  hair,  or  like  to  be  seen 
myself  when  I  am  unwashed  or  out  of  humour? 
Zinaida  Fyodorovna  in  the  simplicity  of  her  heart 
wants  me  to  love  what  I  have  been  shunning  all 
my  life.  She  wants  my  flat  to  smell  of  cooking  and 
washing  up;  she  wants  all  the  fuss  of  moving  into 
another  flat,  of  driving  about  with  her  own  horses; 
she  wants  to  count  over  my  Hnen  and  to  look  after 
my  health;  she  wants  to  meddle  in  my  personal  life 
at  every  instant,  and  to  watch  over  every  step;  and 
at  the  same  time  she  assures  me  genuinely  that  my 
habits  and  my  freedom  will  be  untouched.  She  is 
persuaded  that,  like  a  young  couple,  we  shall  very 
soon  go  for  a  honeymoon  —  that  is,  she  wants  to 
be  with  me  all  the  time  in  trains  and  hotels,  while 
I  like  to  read  on  the  journey  and  cannot  endure 
talking  in  trains." 

"  You  should  give  her  a  talking  to,"  said  Pekarsky. 

*'  What !  Do  you  suppose  she  would  understand 
me?  Why,  we  think  so  differently.  In  her  opinion, 
to  leave  one's  papa  and  mamma  or  one's  husband 
for  the  sake  of  the  man  one  loves  is  the  height  of 
civic  virtue,  while  I  look  upon  it  as  childish.  To 
fall  in  love  and  run  away  with  a  man  to  her  means 

206  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

beginning  a  new  life,  while  to  my  mind  it  means 
nothing  at  all.  Love  and  man  constitute  the  chief 
interest  of  her  life,  and  possibly  it  is  the  philosophy 
of  the  unconscious  at  work  in  her.  Try  and  make 
her  believe  that  love  is  only  a  simple  physical  need, 
like  the  need  of  food  or  clothes;  that  it  doesn't  mean 
the  end  of  the  world  if  wives  and  husbands  are  un- 
satisfactory; that  a  man  may  be  a  profligate  and  a 
libertine,  and  yet  a  man  of  honour  and  a  genius; 
and  that,  on  the  other  hand,  one  may  abstain  from 
the  pleasures  of  love  and  at  the  same  time  be  a 
stupid,  vicious  animal !  The  civilised  man  of  to-day, 
even  among  the  lower  classes  —  for  instance,  the 
French  workman  —  spends  ten  sous  on  dinner,  five 
sous  on  his  wine,  and  five  or  ten  sous  on  woman,  and 
devotes  his  brain  and  nerves  entirely  to  his  work. 
But  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  assigns  to  love  not  so  many 
sous,  but  her  whole  soul.  I  might  give  her  a  talk- 
ing to,  but  she  would  raise  a  wail  in  answer,  and  de- 
clare In  all  sincerity  that  I  had  ruined  her,  that  she 
had  nothing  left  to  live  for." 

"  Don't  say  anything  to  her,"  said  Pekarsky, 
"  but  simply  take  a  separate  flat  for  her,  that's 

"  That's  easy  to  say.  ..." 

There  was  a  brief  silence. 

"  But  she  is  charming,"  said  Kukushkin.  "  She 
is  exquisite.  Such  women  imagine  that  they  will 
be  in  love  for  ever,  and  abandon  themselves  with 
tragic  Intensity." 

"  But  one  must  keep  a  head  on  one's  shoulders," 
said  Orlov;  "one  must  be  reasonable.     All  experi- 

An  Anonymous  Story  207 

ence  gained  from  everyday  life  and  handed  down  In 
innumerable  novels  and  plays,  uniformly  confirms 
the  fact  that  adultery  and  cohabitation  of  any  sort 
between  decent  people  never  lasts  longer  than  two 
or  at  most  three  years,  however  great  the  love  may 
have  been  at  the  beginning.  That  she  ought  to 
know.  And  so  all  this  business  of  moving,  of  sauce- 
pans, hopes  of  eternal  love  and  harmony,  are  nothing 
but  a  desire  to  delude  herself  and  me.  She  is  charm- 
ing and  exquisite  —  who  denies  it?  But  she  has 
turned  my  life  upside  down;  what  I  have  regarded  as 
trivial  and  nonsensical  till  now  she  has  forced  me  to 
raise  to  the  level  of  a  serious  problem;  I  serve  an 
Idol  whom  I  have  never  looked  upon  as  God.  She 
is  charming  —  exquisite,  but  for  some  reason  now 
when  I  am  going  home,  I  feel  uneasy,  as  though  I 
expected  to  meet  with  something  inconvenient  at 
home,  such  as  workmen  pulling  the  stove  to  pieces 
and  blocking  up  the  place  with  heaps  of  bricks.  In 
fact,  I  am  no  longer  giving  up  to  love  a  sous,  but 
part  of  my  peace  of  mind  and  my  nerves.  And 
that's  bad.'' 

"  And  she  doesn't  hear  this  villain !  "  sighed  Ku- 
kushkln.  "  My  dear  sir,"  he  said  theatrically,  "  I 
will  relieve  you  from  the  burdensome  obligation  to 
love  that  adorable  creature !  I  will  wrest  Zinalda 
Fyodorovna  from  you!  " 

"  You  may  .  .  ."  said  Orlov  carelessly. 

For  half  a  minute  Kukushkin  laughed  a  shrill  lit- 
tle laugh,  shaking  all  over,  then  he  said: 

''  Look  out;  I  am  In  earnest!  Don't  you  play  the 
Othello  afterwards!  " 

208  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

They  all  began  talking  of  Kukushkln's  Indefatiga- 
ble  energy  In  love  affairs,  how  irresistible  he  was  to 
women,  and  what  a  danger  he  was  to  husbands;  and 
how  the  devil  would  roast  him  in  the  other  world 
for  his  Immorality  In  this.  He  screwed  up  his  eyes 
and  remained  silent,  and  when  the  names  of  ladles 
of  their  acquaintance  were  mentioned,  he  held  up 
his  little  finger  —  as  though  to  say  they  mustn't  give 
away  other  people's  secrets. 

Orlov  suddenly  looked  at  his  watch. 

His  friends  understood,  and  began  to  take  their 
leave.  I  remember  that  Gruzin,  who  was  a  little 
drunk,  was  wearisomely  long  in  getting  off.  He  put 
on  his  coat,  which  was  cut  like  children's  coats  in 
poor  families,  pulled  up  the  collar,  and  began  telling 
some  long-winded  story;  then,  seeing  he  was  not 
listened  to,  he  flung  the  rug  that  smelt  of  the  nursery 
over  one  shoulder,  and  with  a  guilty  and  Imploring 
face  begged  me  to  find  his  hat. 

''  George,  my  angel,"  he  said  tenderly.  "  Do  as 
I  ask  you,  dear  boy;  come  out  of  town  with  us !  " 

"  You  can  go,  but  I  can't.  I  am  In  the  position  of 
a  married  man  now." 

"  She  is  a  dear,  she  won't  be  angry.  My  dear 
chief,  come  along!  It's  glorious  weather;  there's 
snow  and  frost.  .  .  .  Upon  my  word,  you  want 
shaking  up  a  bit;  you  are  out  of  humour.  I  don't 
know  what  the  devil  Is  the  matter  with  you.   ..." 

Orlov  stretched,  yawned,  and  looked  at  Pekarsky. 

"  Are  you  going?  "  he  said,  hesitating. 

"  I  don't  know.     Perhaps." 

"  Shall  I  get  drunk?     All  right.  Til  come,"  said 

An  Anonymous  Story  209 

Orlov  after  some  hesitation.  "  Wait  a  minute;  I'll 
get  some  money." 

He  went  into  the  study,  and  Gruzin  slouched  in, 
too,  dragging  his  rug  after  him.  A  minute  later 
both  came  back  into  the  hall.  Gruzin,  a  little  drunk 
and  very  pleased,  was  crumpling  a  ten-rouble  note 
in  his  hands. 

"  We'll  settle  up  to-morrow,"  he  said.  "  And 
she  is  kind,  she  won't  be  cross.  .  .  .  She  is  my 
Lisotchka's  godmother;  I  am  fond  of  her,  poor 
thing!  Ah,  my  dear  fellow!  "  he  laughed  joyfully, 
and  pressing  his  forehead  on  Pekarsky's  back. 
"Ah,  Pekarsky,  my  dear  soul!  Advocatissimus  — 
as  dry  as  a  biscuit,  but  you  bet  he  is  fond  of 
women.  .  .  ." 

"  Fat  ones,"  said  Orlov,  putting  on  his  fur  coat. 
"  But  let  us  get  off,  or  we  shall  be  meeting  her  on 
the  doorstep." 

^' '  Vieni  pensando  a  me  segretamente,^  ^^  hummed 

At  last  they  drove  off:  Orlov  did  not  sleep  at 
home,  and  returned  next  day  at  dinner-time. 


Zinaida  Fyodorovna  had  lost  her  gold  watch,  a 
present  from  her  father.  This  loss  surprised  and 
alarmed  her.  She  spent  half  a  day  going  through 
the  rooms,  looking  helplessly  on  all  the  tables  and 
on  all  the  windows.  But  the  watch  had  disappeared 

Only  three  days  afterwards  Zinaida  Fyodorovna, 

210  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

on  coming  In,  left  her  purse  in  the  hall.  Luckily  for 
me,  on  that  occasion  it  was  not  I  but  Polya  who 
helped  her  off  with  her  coat.  When  the  purse  was 
missed.  It  could  not  be  found  In  the  hall. 

''  Strange,"  said  Zinalda  Fyodorovna  in  bewilder- 
ment. *'  I  distinctly  remember  taking  It  out  of  my 
pocket  to  pay  the  cabman  .  .  .  and  then  I  put  it 
here  near  the  looking-glass.     It's  very  odd!  " 

I  had  not  stolen  It,  but  I  felt  as  though  I  had 
stolen  it  and  had  been  caught  in  the  theft.  Tears 
actually  came  into  my  eyes.  When  they  were  seated 
at  dinner,  Zinalda  Fyodorovna  said  to  Orlov  In 
French : 

**  There  seem  to  be  spirits  In  the  flat.  I  lost  my 
purse  In  the  hall  to-day,  and  now,  lo  and  behold,  it 
is  on  my  table.  But  it's  not  quite  a  disinterested 
trick  of  the  spirits.  They  took  out  a  gold  coin  and 
twenty  roubles  in  notes." 

*'  You  are  always  losing  something;  first  It's  your 
watch  and  then  It's  your  money  .  .  ."  said  Orlov. 
'*  Why  is  it  nothing  of  the  sort  ever  happens  to  me  ?  " 

A  minute  later  Zinalda  Fyodorovna  had  forgotten 
the  trick  played  by  the  spirits,  and  was  telling  with  a 
laugh  how  the  week  before  she  had  ordered  some 
notepaper  and  had  forgotten  to  give  her  new  ad- 
dress, and  the  shop  had  sent  the  paper  to  her  old 
home  at  her  husband's,  who  had  to  pay  twelve  rou- 
bles for  It.  And  suddenly  she  turned  her  eyes  on 
Polya  and  looked  at  her  Intently.  She  blushed  as 
she  did  so,  and  was  so  confused  that  she  began  talk- 
ing of  something  else. 

When  I  took  in  the  coffee  to  the  study,  Orlov  was 

An  Anonymous  Story  211 

standing  with  his  back  to  the  fire  and  she  was  sitting 
in  an  arm-chair  facing  him. 

"  I  am  not  in  a  bad  temper  at  all,"  she  was  saying 
in  French.  "  But  I  have  been  putting  things  to- 
gether, and  now  I  see  it  clearly.  I  can  give  you  the 
day  and  the  hour  when  she  stole  my  watch.  And 
the  purse?  There  can  be  no  doubt  about  it.  Oh!" 
she  laughed  as  she  took  the  coffee  from  me.  "  Now 
I  understand  why  I  am  always  losing  my  handker- 
chiefs and  gloves.  Whatever  you  say,  I  shall  dis- 
miss the  magpie  to-morrow  and  send  Stepan  for  my 
Sofya.  She  is  not  a  thief  and  has  not  got  such  a 
.  .  .  repulsive  appearance." 

*'  You  are  out  of  humour.  To-morrow  you  will 
feel  differently,  and  will  realise  that  you  can't  dis- 
charge people  simply  because  you  suspect  them." 

"  It's  not  suspicion;  it's  certainty,"  said  Zinalda 
Fyodorovna.  "  So  long  as  I  suspected  that  unhappy- 
faced,  poor-looking  valet  of  yours,  I  said  nothing. 
It's  too  bad  of  you  not  to  believe  me,  GeorgeJ' 

"  If  we  think  differently  about  anything,  it  doesn't 
follow  that  I  don't  believe  you.  You  may  be  right," 
said  Orlov,  turning  round  and  flinging  his  cigarette- 
end  into  the  fire,  *'  but  there  Is  no  need  to  be  excited 
about  It,  anyway.  In  fact,  I  must  say,  I  never  ex- 
pected my  humble  establishment  would  cause  you  so 
much  serious  worry  and  agitation.  You've  lost  a 
gold  coin :  never  mind  —  you  may  have  a  hundred 
of  mine;  but  to  change  my  habits,  to  pick  up  a  new 
housemaid,  to  wait  till  she  is  used  to  the  place  —  all 
that's  a  tedious,  tiring  business  and  does  not  suit  me. 
Our  present  maid  certainly  is  fat,  and  has,  perhaps, 

212  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

a  weakness  for  gloves  and  handkerchiefs,  but  she  Is 
perfectly  well  behaved,  well  trained,  and  does  not 
shriek  when  Kukushkin  pinches  her." 

"You  mean  that  you  can't  part  with  her?  .  .  . 
Why  don't  you  say  so?  " 

*'  Are  you  jealous?  " 

*'  Yes,  I  am,"  said  Zinaida  Fyodorovna,  decidedly. 

"  Thank  you." 

*'  Yes,  I  am  jealous,"  she  repeated,  and  tears  glis- 
tened in  her  eyes.  "  No,  it's  something  worse  .  .  . 
which  I  find  it  difficult  to  find  a  name  for."  She 
pressed  her  hands  on  her  temples,  and  went  on  im- 
pulsively. "You  men  are  so  disgusting!  It's  hor- 
rible! " 

"  I  see  nothing  horrible  about  it." 

"  I've  not  seen  it;  I  don't  know;  but  they  say  that 
you  men  begin  with  housemaids  as  boys,  and  get  so 
used  to  it  that  you  feel  no  repugnance.  I  don't 
know,  I  don't  know,  but  I  have  actually  read  .  .  . 
George^  of  course  you  are  right,"  she  said,  going  up 
to  Orlov  and  changing  to  a  caressing  and  imploring 
tone.  "  I  really  am  out  of  humour  to-day.  But, 
you  must  understand,  I  can't  help  it.  She  disgusts 
me  and  I  am  afraid  of  her.  It  makes  me  miserable 
to  see  her." 

"  Surely  you  can  rise  above  such  paltriness?  "  said 
Orlov,  shrugging  his  shoulders  in  perplexity,  and 
walking  away  from  the  fire.  "  Nothing  could  be 
simpler:  take  no  notice  of  her,  and  then  she  won't 
disgust  you,  and  you  won't  need  to  make  a  regular 
tragedy  out  of  a  trifle." 

1  went  out  of  the  study,  and  I  don't  know  what 

An  Anonymous  Story  213 

answenOrlov  received.  Whatever  it  was,  Polya  re- 
mained. After  that  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  never  ap- 
plied to  her  for  anything,  and  evidently  tried  to  dis- 
pense with  her  services.  When  Polya  handed  her 
anything  or  even  passed  by  her,  jingling  her  bangle 
and  rustling  her  skirts,  she  shuddered. 

I  beheve  that  if  Gruzin  or  Pekarsky  had  asked 
Orlov  to  dismiss  Polya  he  would  have  done  so  with- 
out the  slightest  hesitation,  without  troubling  about 
any  explanations.  He  was  easily  persuaded,  like  all 
indifferent  people.  But  in  his  relations  with  Zinaida 
Fyodorovna  he  displayed  for  some  reason,  even  in 
trifles,  an  obstinacy  which  sometimes  was  almost  irra- 
tional. I  knew  beforehand  that  if  Zinaida  Fyodor- 
ovna liked  anything,  it  would  be  certain  not  to  please 
Orlov.  When  on  coming  in  from  shopping  she 
made  haste  to  show  him  with  pride  some  new  pur- 
chase, he  would  glance  at  it  and  say  coldly  that  the 
more  unnecessary  objects  they  had  in  the  flat,  the  less 
airy  it  would  be.  It  sometimes  happened  that  after 
putting  on  his  dress  clothes  to  go  out  somewhere,  and 
after  saying  good-bye  to  Zinaida  Fyodorovna,  he 
would  suddenly  change  his  mind  and  remain  at  home 
from  sheer  perversity.  I  used  to  think  that  he  re- 
mained at  home  then  simply  in  order  to  feel  injured. 

"Why  are  you  staying?"  said  Zinaida  Fyodor- 
ovna, with  a  show  of  vexation,  though  at  the  same 
timxe  she  was  radiant  with  delight.  "  Why  do  you? 
You  are  not  accustomed  to  spending  your  evenings 
at  home,  and  I  don't  want  you  to  alter  your  habits  on 
my  account.  Do  go  out  as  usual,  if  you  don't  want 
me  to  feel  guilty." 

214  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

"  No  one  Is  blaming  you,"  said  Orlov. 

With  the  air  of  a  victim  he  stretched  himself  In 
his  easy-chair  in  the  study,  and  shading  his  eyes  with 
his  hand,  took  up  a  book.  But  soon  the  book 
dropped  from  his  hand,  he  turned  heavily  in  his 
chair,  and  again  screened  his  eyes  as  though  from  the 
sun.     Now  he  felt  annoyed  that  he  had  not  gone  out. 

"May  I  come  In?"  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  would 
say,  coming  irresolutely  into  the  study.  ''  Are  you 
reading?  I  felt  dull  by  myself,  and  have  come  just 
for  a  minute  ...  to  have  a  peep  at  you." 

I  remember  one  evening  she  went  In  like  that,  ir- 
resolutely and  Inappropriately,  and  sank  on  the  rug 
at  Orlov's  feet,  and  from  her  soft,  timid  movements 
one  could  see  that  she  did  not  understand  his  mood 
and  was  afraid. 

"  You  are  always  reading  .  .  ."  she  said  cajol- 
Ingly,  evidently  wishing  to  flatter  him.  "  Do  you 
know,  George^  what  Is  one  of  the  secrets  of  your  suc- 
cess? You  are  very  clever  and  well-read.  What 
book  have  you  there?  " 

Orlov  answered.  A  silence  followed  for  some 
minutes  which  seemed  to  me  very  long.  I  was  stand- 
ing in  the  drawing-room,  from  which  I  could  watch 
them,  and  was  afraid  of  coughing. 

"  There  Is  something  I  wanted  to  tell  you,"  said 
Zinaida  Fyodorovna,  and  she  laughed;  ''shall  I? 
Very  likely  you'll  laugh  and  say  that  I  flatter  myself. 
You  know  I  want,  I  want  horribly  to  believe  that  you 
are  staying  at  home  to-night  for  my  sake  .  .  .  that 
we  might  spend  the  evening  together.  Yes?  May 
I  think  so?" 

An  Anonymous  Story  215 

**  Do,"  he  said,  screening  his  eyes.  '^  The  really 
happy  man  is  he  who  thinks  not  only  of  what  is,  but 
of  what  is  not." 

"  That  was  a  long  sentence  which  I  did  not  quite 
understand.  You  mean  happy  people  live  in  their 
imagination.  Yes,  that's  true.  I  love  to  sit  in  your 
study  in  the  evening  and  let  my  thoughts  carry  me 
far,  far  away.  .  .  .  It's  pleasant  sometimes  to 
dream.     Let  us  dream  aloud,  George.'^ 

*' I've  never  been  at  a  girls'  boarding-school;  I 
never  learnt  the  art." 

"  You  are  out  of  humour?  "  said  Zinaida  Fyodor- 
ovna,  taking  Orlov's  hand.  "  Tell  me  why.  When 
you  are  like  that,  I'm  afraid.  I  don't  know  whether 
your  head  aches  or  whether  you  are  angry  with 
me.   .   .   ." 

Again  there  was  a  silence  lasting  several  long  min- 

'*  Why  have  you  changed?"  she  said  softly. 
**  Why  are  you  never  so  tender  or  so  gay  as  you  used 
to  be  at  Znamensky  Street?  I've  been  with  you 
almost  a  month,  but  It  seems  to  me  as  though  we  had 
not  yet  begun  to  live,  and  have  not  yet  talked  of  any- 
thing as  we  ought  to.  You  always  answer  me  with 
jokes  or  else  with  a  long  cold  lecture  like  a  teacher. 
And  there  is  something  cold  In  your  jokes.  .  .  . 
Why  have  you  given  up  talking  to  me  seriously?  " 

"  I  always  talk  seriously." 

"  Well,  then,  let  us  talk.  For  God's  sake, 
George.  .   .   .  Shall  we?" 

*'  Certainly,  but  about  what?  " 

*'  Let  us  talk  of  our  life,  of  our  future,"  said 

2i6  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

ZInalda  Fyodorovna  dreamily.  "  I  keep  making 
plans  for  our  life,  plans  and  plans  —  and  I  enjoy 
doing  it  so !  George,  I'll  begin  with  the  question, 
when  are  you  going  to  give  up  your  post?  " 

"  What  for?  "  asked  Orlov,  taking  his  hand  from 
his  forehead. 

"  With  your  views  you  cannot  remain  in  the  serv- 
ice.    You  are  out  of  place  there." 

"My  views?"  Orlov  repeated.  "My  views? 
In  conviction  and  temperament  I  am  an  ordinary 
official,  one  of  Shtchedrln's  heroes.  You  take  me 
for  something  different,  I  venture  to  assure  you." 

"  Joking  again,  George!  '^ 

"  Not  in  the  least.  The  service  does  not  satisfy 
me,  perhaps;  but,  anyway,  it  is  better  for  me  than 
anything  else.  I  am  used  to  it,  and  in  it  I  meet  men 
of  my  own  sort;  I  am  in  my  place  there  and  find  it 

"  You  hate  the  service  and  it  revolts  you." 

"  Indeed?  If  I  resign  my  post,  take  to  dream- 
ing aloud  and  letting  myself  be  carried  away  Into 
another  world,  do  you  suppose  that  that  world  would 
be  less  hateful  to  me  than  the  service?  " 

"  You  are  ready  to  libel  yourself  in  order  to  con- 
tradict me."  ZInalda  Fyodorovna  was  offended  and 
got  up.     "  I  am  sorry  I  began  this  talk." 

"  Why  are  you  angry?  I  am  not  angry  with  you 
for  not  being  an  official.  Every  one  lives  as  he  likes 

"Why,  do  you  live  as  you  like  best?  Are  you 
free?  To  spend  your  life  writing  documents  that 
are  opposed  to  your  own  ideas,"  ZInalda  Fyodor- 

An  Anonymous  Story  217 

ovna  went  on,  clasping  her  hands  in  despair:  "to 
submit  to  authority,  congratulate  your  superiors  at 
the  New  Year,  and  then  cards  and  nothing  but  cards : 
worst  of  all,  to  be  working  for  a  system  which  must 
be  distasteful  to  you  —  no,  George,  no !  You 
should  not  make  such  horrid  jokes.  It's  dreadful. 
You  are  a  man  of  ideas,  and  you  ought  to  be  work- 
ing for  your  ideas  and  nothing  else." 

"  You  really  take  me  for  quite  a  different  person 
from  what  I  am,"  sighed  Orlov. 

"  Say  simply  that  you  don't  want  to  talk  to  me. 
You  dislike  me,  that's  all,"  said  Zinaida  Fyodorovna 
through  her  tears. 

"  Look  here,  my  dear,"  said  Orlov  admonishingly, 
sitting  up  in  his  chair.  "  You  were  pleased  to  ob- 
serve yourself  that  I  am  a  clever,  well-read  man, 
and  to  teach  one  who  knows  does  nothing  but  harm. 
I  knov/  very  well  all  the  ideas,  great  and  small,  which 
you  mean  when  you  call  me  a  man  of  ideas.  So  if 
I  prefer  the  service  and  cards  to  those  ideas,  you 
may  be  sure  I  have  good  grounds  for  it.  That's  one 
thing.  Secondly,  you  have,  so  far  as  I  know,  never 
been  in  the  service,  and  can  only  have  drawn  your 
ideas  of  Government  service  from  anecdotes  and  in- 
different novels.  So  it  would  not  be  amiss  for  us  to 
make  a  compact,  once  for  all,  not  to  talk  of  things 
we  know  already  or  of  things  about  which  we  are 
not  competent  to  speak." 

"  Why  do  you  speak  to  me  like  that?  "  said  Zin- 
aida Fyodorovna,  stepping  back  as  though  in  horror. 
"What  for?  George,  for  God's  sake,  think  what 
you  are  saying!  " 

2i8  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

Her  voice  quivered  and  broke;  she  was  evidently 
trying  to  restrain  her  tears,  but  she  suddenly  broke 
into  sobs. 

'^  George,  my  darling,  I  am  perishing!  "  she  said 
in  French,  dropping  down  before  Orlov,  and  laying 
her  head  on  his  knees.  "  I  am  miserable,  I  am  ex- 
hausted. I  can't  bear  it,  I  can't  bear  it.  .  .  .  In 
my  childhood  my  hateful,  depraved  stepmother,  then 
my  husband,  now  you  .  .  .  you !  .  .  .  You  meet  my 
mad  love  with  coldness  and  irony.  .  .  .  And  that 
horrible,  insolent  servant,"  she  went  on,  sobbing. 
"  Yes,  yes,  I  see :  I  am  not  your  wife  nor  your  friend, 
but  a  woman  you  don't  respect  because  she  has  be- 
come your  mistress.   ...  I  shall  kill  myself!  " 

I  had  not  expected  that  her  w^ords  and  her  tears 
would  make  such  an  impression  on  Orlov.  He 
flushed,  moved  uneasily  in  his  chair,  and  instead 
of  irony,  his  face  wore  a  look  of  stupid,  school- 
boyish  dismay. 

"  My  darling,  you  misunderstood  me,"  he  mut- 
tered helplessly,  touching  her  hair  and  her  shoulders. 
'*  Forgive  me,  I  entreat  you.  I  was  unjust  .  .  . 
and  I  hate  myself." 

*'  I  insult  you  with  my  whining  and  complaints. 
.  .  .  You  are  a  true,  generous  .  .  .  rare  man  —  I 
am  conscious  of  it  every  minute;  but  Fve  been  hor- 
ribly depressed  for  the  last  few  days.   .   .   ." 

Zinaida  Fyodorovna  impulsively  embraced  Orlov 
and  kissed  him  on  the  cheek. 

"  Only  please  don't  cry,"  he  said. 

"  No,  no.  .  .  .  I've  had  my  cry,  and  now  I  am 

An  Anonymous  Story  219 

"  As  for  the  servant,  she  shall  be  gone  to-mor- 
row," he  said,  still  moving  uneasily  In  his  chair. 

"  No,  she  must  stay,  George!  Do  you  hear?  I 
am  not  afraid  of  her  now.  .  .  .  One  must  rise  above 
trifles  and  not  imagine  silly  things.  You  are  right! 
You  are  a  wonderful,  rare  person!  " 

She  soon  left  off  crying.  With  tears  glistening 
on  her  eyelashes,  sitting  on  Orlov's  knee,  she  told 
him  in  a  low  voice  something  touching,  something 
like  a  reminiscence  of  childhood  and  youth.  She 
stroked  his  face,  kissed  him,  and  carefully  examined 
his  hands  with  the  rings  on  them  and  the  charms  on 
his  watch-chain.  She  was  carried  away  by  what  she 
was  saying,  and  by  being  near  the  man  she  loved, 
and  probably  because  her  tears  had  cleared  and  re- 
freshed her  soul,  there  was  a  note  of  wonderful  can- 
dour and  sincerity  In  her  voice.  And  Orlov  played 
with  her  chestnut  hair  and  kissed  her  hands,  noise- 
lessly pressing  them  to  his  lips. 

Then  they  had  tea  in  the  study,  and  Zlnaida  Fy- 
odorovna  read  aloud  some  letters.  Soon  after  mid- 
night they  went  to  bed. 

I  had  a  fearful  pain  in  my  side  that  night,  and 
could  not  get  warm  or  go  to  sleep  till  morning.  I 
could  hear  Orlov  go  from  the  bedroom  into  his 
study.  After  sitting  there  about  an  hour,  he  rang 
the  bell.  In  my  pain  and  exhaustion  I  forgot  all  the 
rules  and  conventions,  and  went  to  his  study  In  my 
night  attire,  barefooted.  Orlov,  in  his  dressing- 
gown  and  cap,  was  standing  In  the  doorway,  waiting 
for  me. 

**  When  you  are  sent  for  you  should  come  dressed," 

220  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

he    said    sternly.     "  Bring    some    fresh    candles." 

I  was  about  to  apologise,  but  suddenly  broke  into 
a  violent  cough,  and  clutched  at  the  side  of  the  door 
to  save  myself  from  falling. 

"Are  you  111?  "  said  Orlov. 

I  believe  it  was  the  first  time  of  our  acquaintance 
that  he  addressed  me  not  In  the  singular  —  goodness 
knows  why.  Most  likely,  in  my  night  clothes  and 
with  my  face  distorted  by  coughing,  I  played  my 
part  poorly,  and  was  very  little  like  a  flunkey. 

"  If  you  are  111,  why  do  you  take  a  place  ?  "  he  said. 

"  That  I  may  not  die  of  starvation,"  I  answered. 

"  How  disgusting  It  all  is,  really!  "  he  said  softly, 
going  up  to  his  table. 

While  hurriedly  getting  Into  my  coat,  I  put  up  and 
lighted  fresh  candles.  He  was  sitting  at  the  table, 
with  feet  stretched  out  on  a  low  chair,  cutting  a  book. 

I  left  him  deeply  engrossed,  and  the  book  did  not 
drop  out  of  his  hands  as  it  had  done  in  the  evening. 


Now  that  I  am  writing  these  lines  I  am  restrained 
by  that  dread  of  appearing  sentimental  and  ridicu- 
lous. In  which  I  have  been  trained  from  childhood; 
when  I  want  to  be  affectionate  or  to  say  anything 
tender,  I  don't  know  how  to  be  natural.  And  It  is 
that  dread,  together  with  lack  of  practice,  that  pre- 
vents me  from  being  able  to  express  with  perfect 
clearness  what  was  passing  In  my  soul  at  that  time. 

I  was  not  in  love  with  Zinaida  Fyodorovna,  but 
in  the  ordinary  human  feeling  I  had  for  her,  there 

An  Anonymous  Story  221 

was  far  more  youth,  freshness,  and  joyousness  than 
in  Orlov's  love. 

As  I  worked  in  the  morning,  cleaning  boots  or 
sweeping  the  rooms,  I  waited  with  a  thrill  at  my 
heart  for  the  moment  when  I  should  hear  her  voice 
and  her  footsteps.  To  stand  watching  her  as  she 
drank  her  coffee  in  the  morning  or  ate  her  lunch,  to 
hold  her  fur  coat  for  her  in  the  hall,  and  to  put  the 
goloshes  on  her  little  feet  while  she  rested  her  hand 
on  my  shoulder;  then  to  wait  till  the  hall  porter  rang 
up  for  me,  to  meet  her  at  the  door,  cold,  and  rosy, 
powdered  with  the  snow,  to  listen  to  her  brief  excla- 
mations about  the  frost  or  the  cabman  —  if  only  you 
knew  how  much  all  that  meant  to  me !  I  longed  to 
be  in  love,  to  have  a  wife  and  child  of  my  own.  I 
wanted  my  future  wife  to  have  just  such  a  face,  such 
a  voice.  I  dreamed  of  it  at  dinner,  and  in  the  street 
when  I  was  sent  on  some  errand,  and  when  I  lay 
awake  at  night.  Orlov  rejected  with  disgust  chil- 
dren, cooking,  copper  saucepans,  and  feminine  knick- 
knacks,  and  I  gathered  them  all  up,  tenderly  cher- 
ished them  In  my  dreams,  loved  them,  and  begged 
them  of  destiny.  I  had  visions  of  a  wife,  a  nursery, 
a  little  house  with  garden  paths.  .  .  . 

I  knew  that  If  I  did  love  her  I  could  never  dare 
to  hope  for  the  miracle  of  her  returning  my  love,  but 
that  reflection  did  not  worry  me.  In  my  quiet,  mod- 
est feeling  akin  to  ordinary  affection,  there  was  no 
jealousy  of  Orlov  or  even  envy  of  him,  since  I  real- 
ised that  for  a  wreck  like  me  happiness  was  only  to 
be  found  in  dreams. 

When  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  sat  up  night  after  night 

222  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

for  her  George,  looking  immovably  at  a  book  of 
which  she  never  turned  a  page,  or  when  she  shud- 
dered and  turned  pale  at  Polya's  crossing  the  room, 
I  suffered  with  her,  and  the  idea  occurred  to  me  to 
lance  this  festering  wound  as  quickly  as  possible  by 
letting  her  know  what  was  said  here  at  supper  on 
.Thursdays ;  but  —  how  was  it  to  be  done  ?  More 
and  more  often  I  saw  her  tears.  For  the  first  weeks 
she  laughed  and  sang  to  herself,  even  when  Orlov 
was  not  at  home,  but  by  the  second  month  there  was 
a  mournful  stillness  in  our  flat  broken  only  on  Thurs- 
day evenings. 

She  flattered  Orlov,  and  to  wring  from  him  a  coun- 
terfeit smile  or  kiss,  was  ready  to  go  on  her  knees 
to  him,  to  fawn  on  him  like  a  dog.  Even  when  her 
heart  was  heaviest,  she  could  not  resist  glancing  into 
a  looking-glass  if  she  passed  one  and  straightening 
her  hair.  It  seemed  strange  to  me  that  she  could 
still  take  an  interest  in  clothes  and  go  into  ecstasies 
over  her  purchases.  It  did  not  seem  in  keeping  with 
her  genuine  grief.  She  paid  attention  to  the  fash- 
Ions  and  ordered  expensive  dresses.  What  for? 
On  whose  account?  I  particularly  remember  one 
dress  which  cost  four  hundred  roubles.  To  give 
four  hundred  roubles  for  an  unnecessary,  useless 
dress  while  women  for  their  hard  day's  work  get 
only  twenty  kopecks  a  day  without  food,  and  the 
makers  of  Venice  and  Brussels  lace  are  only  paid 
half  a  franc  a  day  on  the  supposition  that  they  can 
earn  the  rest  by  immorality!  And  it  seemed  strange 
to  me  that  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  was  not  conscious  of 
it;  It  vexed  me.     But  she  had  only  to  go  out  of  the 

An  Anonymous  Story  223 

house  for  me  to  find  excuses  and  explanations  for 
everything,  and  to  be  waiting  eagerly  for  the  hall 
porter  to  ring  for  me. 

She  treated  me  as  a  flunkey,  a  being  of  a  lower 
order.  One  may  pat  a  dog,  and  yet  not  notice  It; 
I  was  given  orders  and  asked  questions,  but  my  pres- 
ence was  not  observed.  My  master  and  mistress 
thought  it  unseemly  to  say  more  to  me  than  Is  usually 
said  to  servants;  if  when  waiting  at  dinner  I  had 
laughed  or  put  in  my  word  in  the  conversation,  they 
would  certainly  have  thought  I  was  mad  and  have 
dismissed  me.  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  was  favourably 
disposed  to  me,  all  the  same.  When  she  was  send- 
ing me  on  some  errand  or  explaining  to  me  the  work- 
ing of  a  new  lamp  or  anything  of  that  sort,  her  face 
was  extraordinarily  kind,  frank,  and  cordial,  and  her 
eyes  looked  me  straight  in  the  face.  At  such  mo- 
ments I  always  fancied  she  remembered  with  grati- 
tude how  I  used  to  bring  her  letters  to  Znamensky 
Street.  When  she  rang  the  bell,  Polya,  who  con- 
sidered me  her  favourite  and  hated  me  for  it,  used 
to  say  with  a  jeering  smile: 

*'  Go  along,  your  mistress  wants  you." 
Zinaida  Fyodorovna  considered  me  as  a  being  of 
a  lower  order,  and  did  not  suspect  that  If  any  one  In 
the  house  were  in  a  humiliating  position  It  was  she. 
She  did  not  know  that  I,  a  footman,  was  unhappy  on 
her  account,  and  used  to  ask  myself  twenty  times  a 
day  what  was  In  store  for  her  and  how  It  would  all 
end.  Things  were  growing  visibly  worse  day  by 
day.  After  the  evening  on  which  they  had  talked  of 
his  official  work,  Orlov,  who  could  not  endure  tears, 

224  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

unmistakably  began  to  avoid  conversation  with  her; 
whenever  Zlnalda  Fyodorovna  began  to  argue,  or  to 
beseech  him,  or  seemed  on  the  point  of  crying,  he 
seized  some  plausible  excuse  for  retreating  to  his 
study  or  going  out.  He  more  and  more  rarely  slept 
at  home,  and  still  more  rarely  dined  there  :  on  Thurs- 
days he  was  the  one  to  suggest  some  expedition  to 
his  friends.  Zlnalda  Fyodorovna  was  still  dreaming 
of  having  the  cooking  done  at  home,  of  moving  to  a 
new  flat,  of  travelling  abroad,  but  her  dreams  re- 
mained dreams.  Dinner  was  sent  in  from  the  res- 
taurant. Orlov  asked  her  not  to  broach  the  ques- 
tion of  moving  until  after  they  had  come  back  from 
abroad,  and  apropos  of  their  foreign  tour,  declared 
that  they  could  not  go  till  his  hair  had  grown  long, 
as  one  could  not  go  trailing  from  hotel  to  hotel 
and  serving  the  idea  without  long  hair. 

To  crown  it  all,  in  Orlov's  absence,  Kukushkln 
began  calling  at  the  flat  in  the  evening.  JThere  was 
nothing  exceptional  in  his  behaviour,  but  I  could 
never  forget  the  conversation  in  which  he  had  offered 
to  cut  Orlov  out.  He  was  regaled  with  tea  and  red 
wine,  and  he  used  to  titter  and,  anxious  to  say  some- 
thing pleasant,  would  declare  that  a  free  union  was 
superior  in  every  respect  to  legal  marriage,  and  that 
all  decent  people  ought  really  to  come  to  Zlnalda 
Fyodorovna  and  fall  at  her  feet. 


Christmas  was  spent  drearily  In  vague  anticipa- 
tions of  calamity.     On  New  Year's  Eve  Orlov  un- 

An  Anonymous  Story  225 

expectedly  announced  at  breakfast  that  he  was  being 
sent  to  assist  a  senator  who  was  on  a  revising  com- 
mission in  a  certain  province. 

'*  I  don't  want  to  go,  but  I  can't  find  an  excuse 
to  get  off,"  he  said  with  vexation.  "  I  must  go; 
there's  nothing  for  it." 

Such  news  instantly  made  Zinaida  Fyodorovna's 
eyes  look  red.     "  Is  it  for  long?  "  she  asked. 

"  Five  days  or  so." 

*'  I  am  glad,  really,  you  are  going,"  she  said  after 
a  moment's  thought.  "  It  will  be  a  change  for  you. 
You  will  fall  in  love  with  some  one  on  the  way,  and 
tell  me  about  it  afterwards." 

At  every  opportunity  she  tried  to  make  Orlov  feel 
that  she  did  not  restrict  his  liberty  in  any  way,  and 
that  he  could  do  exactly  as  he  liked,  and  this  artless, 
transparent  strategy  deceived  no  one,  and  only  un- 
necessarily reminded  Orlov  that  he  was  not  free. 

*'  I  am  going  this  evening,"  he  said,  and  began 
reading  the  paper. 

Zinaida  Fyodorovna  wanted  to  see  him  off  at  the 
station,  but  he  dissuaded  her,  saying  that  he  was  not 
going  to  America,  and  not  going  to  be  away  five 
years,  but  only  five  days  —  possibly  less. 

The  parting  took  place  between  seven  and  eight. 
He  put  one  arm  round  her,  and  kissed  her  on  the  lips 
and  on  the  forehead. 

*'  Be  a  good  girl,  and  don't  be  depressed  while  I 
am  away,"  he  said  in  a  warm,  affectionate  tone  which 
touched  even  me.     *'  God  keep  you  !  " 

She  looked  greedily  into  his  face,  to  stamp  his  dear 
features  on  her  memory,  then  she  put  her  arms  grace- 

226  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

fully  round  his  neck  and  laid  her  head  on  his  breast. 

"  Forgive  me  our  misunderstandings,"  she  said  in 
French.  "  Husband  and  wife  cannot  help  quar- 
relling if  they  love  each  other,  and  I  love  you  madly. 
Don't  forget  me.  .   .   .  Wire  to  me  often  and  fully." 

Orlov  kissed  her  once  more,  and,  without  saying  a 
word,  went  out  in  confusion.  When  he  heard  the 
click  of  the  lock  as  the  door  closed,  he  stood  still  in 
the  middle  of  the  staircase  in  hesitation  and  glanced 
upwards.  It  seemed  to  me  that  if  a  sound  had 
reached  him  at  that  moment  from  above,  he  would 
have  turned  back.  But  all  was  quiet.  He  straight- 
ened his  coat  and  went  downstairs  irresolutely. 

The  sledges  had  been  waiting  a  long  while  at  the 
door.  Orlov  got  into  one,  I  got  into  the  other  with 
two  portmanteaus.  It  was  a  hard  frost  and  there 
were  fires  smoking  at  the  cross-roads.  The  cold 
wind  nipped  my  face  and  hands,  and  took  my  breath 
away  as  we  drove  rapidly  along;  and,  closing  my 
eyes,  I  thought  what  a  splendid  woman  she  was. 
How  she  loved  him !  Even  useless  rubbish  is  col- 
lected in  the  courtyards  nowadays  and  used  for  some 
purpose,  even  broken  glass  is  considered  a  useful 
commodity,  but  something  so  precious,  so  rare,  as 
the  love  of  a  refined,  young,  Intelligent,  and  good 
woman  is  utterly  thrown  away  and  wasted.  One  of 
the  early  sociologists  regarded  every  evil  passion  as 
a  force  which  might  by  judicious  management  be 
turned  to  good,  while  among  us  even  a  fine,  noble 
passion  springs  up  and  dies  away  in  impotence, 
turned  to  no  account,  misunderstood  or  vulgarised. 
Why  Is  it? 

An  Anonymous  Story  227 

The  sledges  stopped  unexpectedly.  I  opened  my 
eyes  and  I  saw  that  we  had  come  to  a  standstill  in 
Sergievsky  Street,  near  a  big  house  where  Pekarsky 
lived.  Orlov  got  out  of  the  sledge  and  vanished  into 
the  entry.  Five  minutes  later  Pekarsky's  footman 
came  out,  bareheaded,  and,  angry  with  the  frost, 
shouted  to  me : 

"Are  you  deaf?  Pay  the  cabmen  and  go  up- 
stairs.    You  are  wanted!" 

At  a  complete  loss,  I  went  to  the  first  storey.  I 
had  been  to  Pekarsky's  flat  before  —  that  is,  I  had 
stood  in  the  hall  and  looked  into  the  drawing-room, 
and,  after  the  damp,  gloomy  street,  it  always  struck 
me  by  the  brilliance  of  its  picture-frames,  its  bronzes 
and  expensive  furniture.  To-day  in  the  midst  of 
this  splendour  I  saw  Gruzin,  Kukushkin,  and,  after 
a  minute,  Orlov. 

*'  Look  here,  Stepan,"  he  said,  coming  up  to  me. 
"  I  shall  be  staying  here  till  Friday  or  Saturday.  If 
any  letters  or  telegrams  come,  you  must  bring  them 
here  every  day.  At  home,  of  course  you  will  say  that  I 
have  gone,  and  send  my  greetings.  Now  you  can  go." 

When  I  reached  home  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  was 
lying  on  the  sofa  in  the  drawing-room,  eating  a  pear. 
There  was  only  one  candle  burning  in  the  candelabra. 

*' Did  you  catch  the  train?"  asked  Zinaida  Fy- 

"  Yes,  madam.     His  honour  sends  his  greetings." 

I  went  into  my  room  and  I,  too,  lay  down.  I  had 
nothing  to  do,  and  I  did  not  want  to  read.  I  was 
not  surprised  and  I  was  not  indignant.  I  only 
racked  my  brains  to  think  why  this  deception  was 

228  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

necessary.  It  is  only  boys  In  their  teens  who  de- 
ceive their  mistresses  like  that.  How  was  it  that  a 
man  who  had  thought  and  read  so  much  could  not 
imagine  anything  more  sensible?  I  must  confess  I 
had  by  no  means  a  poor  opinion  of  his  intelligence. 
I  believe  if  he  had  had  to  deceive  his  minister  or  any 
other  influential  person  he  would  have  put  a  great 
deal  of  skill  and  energy  into  doing  so;  but  to  deceive 
a  woman,  the  first  idea  that  occurred  to  him  was 
evidently  good  enough.  If  it  succeeded  —  well  and 
good;  if  it  did  not,  there  would  be  no  harm  done  — 
he  could  tell  some  other  lie  just  as  quickly  and  simply, 
with  no  mental  effort. 

At  midnight  when  the  people  on  the  floor  over- 
head were  moving  their  chairs  and  shouting  hurrah 
to  welcome  the  New  Year,  ZInalda  Fyodorovna  rang 
for  me  from  the  room  next  to  the  study.  Languid 
from  lying  down  so  long,  she  was  sitting  at  the  table, 
writing  something  on  a  scrap  of  paper. 

"  I  must  send  a  telegram,"  she  said,  with  a  smile. 
*'  Go  to  the  station  as  quick  as  you  can  and  ask  them 
to  send  It  after  him." 

Going  out  into  the  street,  I  read  on  the  scrap  of 

"  May  the  New  Year  bring  new  happiness. 
Make  haste  and  telegraph;  I  miss  you  dreadfully. 
It  seems  an  eternity.  I  am  only  sorry  I  can't  send 
a  thousand  kisses  and  my  very  heart  by  telegraph. 
Enjoy  yourself,  my  darling. —  ZiNA." 

I  sent  the  telegram,  and  next  morning  I  gave  her 
the  receipt. 

An  Anonymous  Story  229 


The  worst  of  It  was  that  Orlov  had  thoughtlessly 
let  Polya,  too,  into  the  secret  of  his  deception,  telling 
her  to  bring  his  shirts  to  Sergievsky  Street.  After 
that,  she  looked  at  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  with  a  ma- 
lignant joy  and  hatred  I  could  not  understand,  and 
was  never  tired  of  snorting  with  delight  to  herself  in 
her  own  room  and  In  the  hall. 

"  She's  outstayed  her  welcome;  It's  time  she  took 
herself  off!  "  she  would  say  with  zest.  "  She  ought 
to  realise  that  herself.  .  .  ." 

She  already  divined  by  instinct  that  Zinaida  Fy- 
odorovna would  not  be  with  us  much  longer,  and, 
not  to  let  the  chance  slip,  carried  off  everything  she 
set  her  eyes  on  —  smelling-bottles,  tortoise-shell 
hairpins,  handkerchiefs,  shoes !  On  the  day  after 
New  Year's  Day,  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  summoned 
me  to  her  room  and  told  me  in  a  low  voice  that  she 
missed  her  black  dress.  And  then  she  walked 
through  all  the  rooms,  with  a  pale,  frightened,  and 
Indignant  face,  talking  to  herself: 

'^  It's  too  much!  It's  beyond  everything.  Why, 
it's  unheard-of  Insolence !  " 

At  dinner  she  tried  to  help  herself  to  soup,  but 
could  not  —  her  hands  were  trembling.  Her  lips 
were  trembling,  too.  She  looked  helplessly  at  the 
soup  and  at  the  little  pies,  waiting  for  the  trembling 
to  pass  off,  and  suddenly  she  could  not  resist  looking 
at  Polya. 

"  You  can  go,  Polya,"  she  said.  "  Stepan  is 
enough  by  himself." 

230  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

"  I'll  stay;  I  don't  mind,"  answered  Polya. 

"  There's  no  need  for  you  to  stay.  You  go  away 
altogether,"  ZInalda  Fyodorovna  went  on,  getting 
up  in  great  agitation.  "  You  may  look  out  for  an- 
other place.     You  can  go  at  once." 

"  I  can't  go  away  without  the  master's  orders. 
He  engaged  me.      It  must  be  as  he  orders." 

"  You  can  take  orders  from  me,  too!  I  am  mis- 
tress here!"  said  Zinaida  Fyodorovna,  and  she 
flushed  crimson. 

"  You  may  be  the  mistress,  but  only  the  master 
can  dismiss  me.     It  was  he  engaged  me." 

**  You  dare  not  stay  here  another  minute!  "  cried 
Zinaida  Fyodorovna,  and  she  struck  the  plate  with 
her  knife.     *' You  are  a  thief !      Do  you  hear?  " 

Zinaida  Fyodorovna  flung  her  dinner-napkin  on 
the  table,  and  with  a  pitiful,  suffering  face,  went 
quickly  out  of  the  room.  Loudly  sobbing  and  wail- 
ing something  indistinct,  Polya,  too,  went  away. 
The  soup  and  the  grouse  got  cold.  And  for  some 
reason  all  the  restaurant  dainties  on  the  table  struck 
me  as  poor,  thievish,  like  Polya.  Two  pies  on  a 
plate  had  a  particularly  miserable  and  guilty  air. 
""  We  shall  be  taken  back  to  the  restaurant  to-day," 
they  seemed  to  be  saying,  "  and  to-morrow  we  shall 
be  put  on  the  table  again  for  some  official  or  cele- 
brated singer," 

"  She  is  a  fine  lady,  indeed,"  I  heard  uttered  in 
Polya's  room.  *'  I  could  have  been  a  lady  like  that 
long  ago,  but  I  have  some  self-respect!  We'll  see 
which  of  us  will  be  the  first  to  go !  " 

Zinaida  Fyodorovna  rang  the  bell.     She  was  sit- 

An  Anonymous  Story  231 

ting  in  her  room,  In  the  corner,  looking  as  though  she 
had  been  put  in  the  corner  as  a  punishment. 

*'  No  telegram  has  come?  "  she  asked. 

"  No,  madam." 

*' Ask  the  porter;  perhaps  there  Is  a  telegram. 
And  don't  leave  the  house,"  she  called  after  me.  "  I 
am  afraid  to  be  left  alone." 

After  that  I  had  to  run  down  almost  every  hour 
to  ask  the  porter  whether  a  telegram  had  come.  I 
must  own  It  was  a  dreadful  time !  To  avoid  seeing 
Polya,  ZInaida  Fyodorovna  dined  and  had  tea  In  her 
own  room;  it  was  here  that  she  slept,  too,  on  a  short 
sofa  like  a  half-moon,  and  she  made  her  own  bed. 
For  the  first  days  I  took  the  telegrams;  but,  get- 
ting no  answer,  she  lost  her  faith  in  me  and  began 
telegraphing  herself.  Looking  at  her,  I,  too,  began 
Impatiently  hoping  for  a  telegram.  I  hoped  he 
would  contrive  some  deception,  would  make  arrange- 
ments, for  Instance,  that  a  telegram  should  be  sent 
to  her  from  some  station.  If  he  were  too  much  en- 
grossed with  cards  or  had  been  attracted  by  some 
other  woman,  I  thought  that  both  Gruzin  and  Ku- 
kushkin  would  remind  him  of  us.  But  our  expecta- 
tions were  vain.  Five  times  a  day  I  would  go  in  to 
ZInaida  Fyodorovna,  intending  to  tell  her  the  truth, 
but  her  eyes  looked  piteous  as  a  faw^n's,  her  shoul- 
ders seemed  to  droop,  her  lips  were  moving,  and  F 
went  away  again  without  saying  a  word.  Pity  and 
sympathy  seemed  to  rob  me  of  all  manliness.  Polya, 
as  cheerful  and  well  satisfied  with  herself  as  though 
nothing  had  happened,  was  tidying  the  master's 
study  and  the  bedroom,  rummaging  in  the  cupboards, 

232  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

and  making  the  crockery  jingle,  and  when  she  passed 
Zinaida  Fyodorovna's  door,  she  hummed  something 
and  coughed.  She  was  pleased  that  her  mistress 
was  hiding  from  her.  In  the  evening  she  would  go 
out  somewhere,  and  rang  at  two  or  three  o'clock  in 
the  morning,  and  I  had  to  open  the  door  to  her  and 
listen  to  remarks  about  my  cough.  Immediately 
afterwards  I  would  hear  another  ring;  I  would  run 
to  the  room  next  to  the  study,  and  Zinaida  Fyodor- 
ovna,  putting  her  head  out  of  the  door,  would  ask, 
"  Who  was  it  rung?  "  while  she  looked  at  my  hands 
to  see  whether  I  had  a  telegram. 

When  at  last  on  Saturday  the  bell  rang  below 
and  she  heard  the  familiar  voice  on  the  stairs,  she 
was  so  delighted  that  she  broke  Into  sobs.  She 
rushed  to  meet  him,  embraced  him,  kissed  him  on 
the  breast  and  sleeves,  said  something  one  could  not 
understand.  The  hall  porter  brought  up  the  port- 
manteaus; Polya's  cheerful  voice  was  heard.  It  was 
as  though  some  one  had  come  home  for  the  holi- 

"  Why  didn't  you  wire?  "  asked  Zinaida  Fyodor- 
ovna,  breathless  with  joy.  "  Why  was  It?  I  have 
been  in  misery;  I  don't  know  how  I've  lived  through 
it.  .  .  .  Oh,  my  God!" 

"  It  was  very  simple !  I  returned  with  the  sena- 
tor to  Moscow  the  very  first  day,  and  didn't  get  your 
telegrams,"  said  Orlov.  "  After  dinner,  my  love, 
I'll  give  you  a  full  account  of  my  doings,  but  now 
I  must  sleep  and  sleep.  ...  I  am  worn  out  with  the 

An  Anonymous  Story  233 

It  was  evident  that  he  had  not  slept  all  night;  he 
had  probably  been  playing  cards  and  drinking  freely. 
Zinaida  Fyodorovna  put  him  to  bed,  and  we  all 
walked  about  on  tiptoe  all  that  day.  The  dinner 
went  off  quite  satisfactorily,  but  when  they  went  into 
the  study  and  had  coffee  the  explanation  began. 
Zinaida  Fyodorovna  began  talking  of  something  rap- 
idly In  a  low  voice;  she  spoke  in  French,  and  her 
words  flowed  like  a  stream.  Then  I  heard  a  loud 
sigh  from  Orlov,  and  his  voice. 

^' My  God!"  he  said  In  French.  "Have  you 
really  nothing  fresher  to  tell  me  than  this  everlasting 
tale  of  your  servant's  misdeeds?  " 

"  But,  my  dear,  she  robbed  me  and  said  insulting 
things  to  me." 

"  But  why  Is  it  she  doesn't  rob  me  or  say  Insulting 
things  to  me?  Why  is  it  I  never  notice  the  maids 
nor  the  porters  nor  the  footmen?  My  dear,  you 
are  simply  capricious  and  refuse  to  know  your  own 
mind.  ...  I  really  begin  to  suspect  that  you  must 
be  In  a  certain  condition.  When  I  offered  to  let  her 
go,  you  Insisted  on  her  remaining,  and  now  you  want 
me  to  turn  her  away.  I  can  be  obstinate,  too.  In 
such  cases.  You  want  her  to  go,  but  I  want  her  to 
remain.  That's  the  only  way  to  cure  you  of  your 

"  Oh,  very  w^ell,  very  well,"  said  Zinaida  Fyodor- 
ovna In  alarm.  "  Let  us  say  no  more  about  that. 
.  .  .  Let  us  put  It  off  till  to-morrow.  .  .  .  Now  tell 
me  about  Moscow.  .  .  .  What  is  going  on  in  Mos- 

234  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 


After  lunch  next  day  —  it  was  the  seventh  of  Jan- 
uary, St.  John  the  Baptist's  Day  —  Orlov  put  on  his 
black  dress  coat  and  his  decoration  to  go  to  visit  his 
father  and  congratulate  him  on  his  name  day.  He 
had  to  go  at  two  o'clock,  and  it  was  only  half-past 
one  when  he  had  finished  dressing.  What  was  he 
to  do  for  that  half-hour?  He  walked  about  the 
drawing-room,  declaiming  some  congratulatory 
verses  which  he  had  recited  as  a  child  to  his  father 
and  mother. 

Zinaida  Fyodorovna,  who  was  just  going  out  to  a 
dressmaker's  or  to  the  shops,  was  sitting,  listening 
to  him  with  a  smile.  I  don't  know  how  their  con- 
versation began,  but  when  1  took  Orlov  his  gloves, 
he  was  standing  before  her  with  a  capricious,  be- 
seeching face,  saying: 

"  For  God's  sake,  in  the  name  of  everything  that's 
holy,  don't  talk  of  things  that  everybody  knows! 
What  an  unfortunate  gift  our  intellectual  thoughtful 
ladies  have  for  talking  with  enthusiasm  and  an  air 
of  profundity  of  things  that  every  schoolboy  is  sick 
to  death  of!  Ah,  if  only  you  would  exclude  from 
our  conjugal  programme  all  these  serious  questions! 
How  grateful  I  should  be  to  you!  " 

"  We  women  may  not  dare,  it  seems,  to  have 
views  of  our  own." 

"  I  give  you  full  liberty  to  be  as  liberal  as  you 
like,  and  quote  from  any  authors  you  choose,  but 
make  me  one  concession :  don't  hold  forth  in  my 
presence  on  either  of  two  subjects:  the  corruption 

An  xAnonymous  Story  235 

of  the  upper  classes  and  the  evils  of  the  marriage 
system.  Do  understand  me,  at  last.  The  upper 
class  Is  always  abused  in  contrast  with  the  world  of 
tradesmen,  priests,  workmen  and  peasants,  Sidors 
and  NIkltas  of  all  sorts.  I  detest  both  classes,  but 
If  I  had  honesty  to  choose  between  the  two,  I  should 
without  hesitation,  prefer  the  upper  class,  and  there 
would  be  no  falsity  or  affectation  about  it,  since  all 
my  tastes  are  In  that  direction.  Our  world  Is  trivial 
and  empty,  but  at  any  rate  we  speak  French  decently, 
read  something,  and  don't  punch  each  other  In  the 
ribs  even  In  our  most  violent  quarrels,  while  the 
Sidors  and  the  NIkltas  and  their  worships  in  trade 
talk  about  '  being  quite  agreeable,'  *  In  a  jiffy/  *  blast 
your  eyes,'  and  display  the  utmost  license  of  pot- 
house manners  and  the  most  degrading  supersti- 

"  The  peasant  and  the  tradesman  feed  you." 
*' Yes,  but  what  of  It?  That's  not  only  to  my 
discredit,  but  to  theirs  too.  They  feed  me  and  take 
off  their  caps  to  me,  so  it  seems  they  have  not  the 
Intelligence  and  honesty  to  do  otherwise.  I  don't 
blame  or  praise  any  one :  I  only  mean  that  the  upper 
class  and  the  lower  are  as  bad  as  one  another.  My 
feelings  and  my  Intelligence  are  opposed  to  both, 
but  my  tastes  lie  more  in  the  direction  of  the  former. 
Well,  now  for  the  evils  of  marriage,"  Orlov  went 
on,  glancing  at  his  watch.  ''  It's  high  time  for  you 
to  understand  that  there  are  no  evils  in  the  system 
Itself;  what  is  the  matter  is  that  you  don't  know 
yourselves  what  you  want  from  marriage.  What  is 
it  you  want?     In  legal  and  Illegal  cohabitation,  In 

236  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

every  sort  of  union  and  cohabitation,  good  or  bad, 
the  underlying  reaHty  is  the  same.  You  ladies  live 
for  that  underlying  reality  alone :  for  you  it's  every- 
thing; your  existence  would  have  no  meaning  for  you 
without  it.  You  want  nothing  but  that,  and  you  get 
It;  but  since  you've  taken  to  reading  novels  you  are 
ashamed  of  it:  you  rush  from  pillar  to  post,  you 
recklessly  change  your  men,  and  to  justify  this  tur- 
moil you  have  begun  talking  of  the  evils  of  marriage. 
So  long  as  you  can't  and  won't  renounce  what  under- 
lies it  all,  your  chief  foe,  your  devil  —  so  long  as 
you  serve  that  slavishly,  what  use  is  there  in  discuss- 
ing the  matter  seriously?  Everything  you  may  say 
to  me  will  be  falsity  and  affectation.  I  shall  not 
believe  you." 

I  went  to  find  out  from  the  hall  porter  whether  the 
sledge  was  at  the  door,  and  when  I  came  back  I 
found  it  had  become  a  quarrel.  As  sailors  say,  a 
squall  had  blown  up. 

"  I  see  you  want  to  shock  me  by  your  cynicism  to- 
day," said  Zinaida  Fyodorovna,  walking  about  the 
drawing-room  in  great  emotion.  "  It  revolts  me  to 
listen  to  you.  I  am  pure  before  God  and  man,  and 
have  nothing  to  repent  of.  I  left  my  husband  and 
came  to  you,  and  am  proud  of  it.  I  swear,  on  my 
honour,  I  am  proud  of  It!  " 

''Well,  that's  all  right,  then!" 

"  If  you  are  a  decent,  honest  man,  you,  too,  ought 
to  be  proud  of  what  I  did.  It  raises  you  and  me 
above  thousands  of  people  who  w^ould  like  to  do  as 
we  have  done,  but  do  not  venture  through  cowardice 
or  petty  prudence.      But  you  are  not  a  decent  man. 

An  Anonymous  Story  237 

You  are  afraid  of  freedom,  and  you  mock  the 
promptings  of  genuine  feeling,  from  fear  that  some 
ignoramus  may  suspect  you  of  being  sincere.  You 
are  afraid  to  show  me  to  your  friends;  there's  no 
greater  infliction  for  you  than  to  go  about  with  me  in 
the  street.  .  .  .  Isn't  that  true?  Why  haven't  you 
introduced  me  to  your  father  or  your  cousin  all  this 
time  ?  Why  is  it  ?  No,  I  am  sick  of  It  at  last,"  cried 
Zinalda  Fyodorovna,  stamping.  ''  I  demand  what  Is 
mine  by  right.    You  must  present  me  to  your  father." 

"  If  you  want  to  know  him,  go  and  present  your- 
self. He  receives  visitors  every  morning  from  ten 
till  half-past." 

"  How  base  you  are!  "  said  Zinalda  Fyodorovna, 
wringing  her  hands  In  despair.  "  Even  if  you  are 
not  sincere,  and  are  not  saying  what  you  think,  I 
might  hate  you  for  your  cruelty.  Oh,  how  base  you 

**  We  keep  going  round  and  round  and  never 
reach  the  real  point.  The  real  point  is  that  you 
made  a  mistake,  and  you  won't  acknowledge  it  aloud. 
You  Imagined  that  I  was  a  hero,  and  that  I  had 
some  extraordinary  Ideas  and  Ideals,  and  it  has 
turned  out  that  I  am  a  most  ordinary  official,  a  card- 
player,  and  have  no  partiality  for  Ideas  of  any  sort. 
I  am  a  worthy  representative  of  the  rotten  world 
from  which  you  have  run  away  because  you  were  re- 
volted with  Its  triviality  and  emptiness.  Recognise 
it  and  be  just :  don't  be  indignant  with  me,  but  with 
yourself,  as  it  is  your  mistake,  and  not  mine." 

"  Yes,  I  admit  I  was  mistaken." 

"  Well,  that's  all  right,  then.     We've  reached  that 

238  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

point  at  last,  thank  God.  Now  hear  somcthuig 
more,  if  you  please :  I  can't  rise  to  your  level  —  I  am 
too  depraved;  you  can't  descend  to  my  level,  either, 
for  you  are  too  exalted.  So  there  Is  only  one  thing 
left  to  do.  .  .  ." 

"What?"  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  asked  quickly, 
holding  her  breath  and  turning  suddenly  as  white  as 
a  sheet  of  paper. 

"  To  call  logic  to  our  aid.  .  .  ." 

"  Georgy,  why  are  you  torturing  me?"  Zinaida 
Fyodorovna  said  suddenly  in  Russian  In  a  breaking 
voice.  "What  Is  It  for?  Think  of  my  mis- 
ery. .  .  ." 

Orlov,  afraid  of  tears,  went  quickly  into  his  study, 
and  I  don't  know  why  —  whether  it  was  that  he 
wished  to  cause  her  extra  pain,  or  whether  he  re- 
membered It  was  usually  done  In  such  cases  —  he 
locked  the  door  after  him.  She  cried  out  and  ran 
after  him  with  a  rustle  of  her  skirt. 

"  What  does  this  mean?  "  she  cried,  knocking  at 
his  door.  "What  .  .  .  what  does  this  mean?" 
she  repeated  in  a  shrill  voice  breaking  with  indigna- 
tion. "  Ah,  so  this  Is  what  you  do !  Then  let  me 
tell  you  I  hate  you,  I  despise  you !  Everything  Is 
over  between  us  now.'' 

I  heard  hysterical  weeping  mingled  with  laughter. 
Something  small  In  the  drawing-room  fell  off  the 
table  and  was  broken.  Orlov  went  out  Into  the  hall 
by  another  door,  and,  looking  round  him  nervously, 
he  hurriedly  put  on  his  great-coat  and  went  out. 

Half  an  hour  passed,  an  hour,  and  she  was  still 
weeping.     I  remembered  that  she  had  no  father  or 

An  Anonymous  Story  239 

mother,  no  relations,  and  here  she  was  living  be- 
tween a  man  who  hated  her  and  Polya,  who  robbed 
her  —  and  how  desolate  her  life  seemed  to  mc !  I 
do  not  know  why,  but  I  went  into  the  drawing-room 
to  her.  Weak  and  helpless,  looking  with  her  lovely 
hair  like  an  embodiment  of  tenderness  and  grace,  she 
was  in  anguish,  as  though  she  were  ill;  she  was  lying 
on  a  couch,  hiding  her  face,  and  quivering  all  over. 

''Madam,  shouldn't  I  fetch  a  doctor?"  I  asked 

"  No,  there's  no  need  .  .  .  It's  nothing,"  she  said, 
and  she  looked  at  me  with  her  tear-stained  eyes.  "  I 
have  a  little  headache.  .  .  .  Thank  you." 

I  went  out,  and  in  the  evening  she  was  writing 
letter  after  letter,  and  sent  me  out  first  to  Pekarsky, 
then  to  Gruzin,  then  to  Kukushkin,  and  finally  any- 
where I  chose,  if  only  I  could  find  Orlov  and  give 
him  the  letter.  Every  time  I  came  back  with  the  let- 
ter she  scolded  me,  entreated  me,  thrust  money  Into 
my  hand  —  as  though  she  were  In  a  fever.  And  all 
the  night  she  did  not  sleep,  but  sat  In  the  drawing- 
room,  talking  to  herself. 

Orlov  returned  to  dinner  next  day,  and  they  were 

The  first  Thu  sday  afterwards  Orlov  complained 
to  his  friends  of  the  intolerable  life  he  led;  he 
smoked  a  great  deal,  and  said  with  Irritation: 

'*  It  Is  no  life  at  all;  It's  the  rack.  Tears,  wail- 
ing, intellectual  conversations,  begging  for  forgive- 
ness, again  tears  and  wailing;  and  the  long  and  the 
short  of  It  Is  that  I  have  no  flat  of  my  own  now.  I 
am  wretched,  and  I  make  her  wretched.     Surely  I 

240  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

haven't   to   live   another  month   or   two   like   this? 
How  can  I  ?     But  yet  I  may  have  to." 

"  Why  don't  you  speak,  then?  "  said  Pekarsky. 

"  I've  tried,  but  I  can't.  One  can  boldly  tell  the 
truth,  whatever  it  may  be,  to  an  independent,  rational 
man;  but  in  this  case  one  has  to  do  with  a  creature 
who  has  no  will,  no  strength  of  character,  and  no 
logic.  I  cannot  endure  tears;  they  disarm  me. 
When  she  cries,  I  am  ready  to  swear  eternal  love  and 
cry  myself." 

Pekarsky  did  not  understand;  he  scratched  his 
broad  forehead  in  perplexity  and  said : 

"  You  really  had  better  take  another  flat  for  her. 
It's  so  simple !  " 

"  She  wants  me,  not  the  flat.  But  what's  the  good 
of  talking?"  sighed  Orlov.  *' I  only  hear  endless 
conversations,  but  no  w^ay  out  of  my  position.  It 
certainly  is  a  case  of  '  being  guilty  without  guilt.' 
I  don't  claim  to  be  a  mushroom,  but  it  seems  I've  got 
to  go  into  the  basket.  The  last  thing  I've  ever  set 
out  to  be  is  a  hero.  I  never  could  endure  Turge- 
nev's  novels;  and  now,  all  of  a  sudden,  as  though  to 
spite  me,  I've  heroism  forced  upon  me.  I  assure 
her  on  my  honour  that  I'm  not  a  hero  at  all,  I  adduce 
irrefutable  proofs  of  the  same,  but  she  doesn't  be- 
lieve me.  Why  doesn't  she  believe  me?  I  suppose 
I  really  must  have  something  of  the  appearance  of  a 

"  You  go  off  on  a  tour  of  inspection  in  the  prov- 
inces,"  said   Kukushkin,  laughing. 

"  Yes,  that's  the  only  thing  left  for  me." 

A  week  after  this  conversation  Orlov  announced 

An  Anonymous  Story  241 

that  he  was  again  ordered  to  attend  the  senator,  and 
the  same  evening  he  went  off  with  his  portmanteaus 
to  Pekarsky. 


An  old  man  of  sixty,  in  a  long  fur  coat  reaching 
to  the  ground,  and  a  beaver  cap,  was  standing  at  the 

^*  Is  Georgy  Ivanitch  at  home?  "  he  asked. 

At  first  I  thought  it  was  one  of  the  moneylenders, 
Gruzin's  creditors,  who  sometimes  used  to  come  to 
Orlov  for  small  payments  on  account;  but  when  he 
came  into  the  hall  and  flung  open  his  coat,  I  saw 
the  thick  brows  and  the  characteristically  compressed 
lips  which  I  knew  so  well  from  the  photographs,  and 
two  rows  of  stars  on  the  uniform.  I  recognised 
him:  it  was  Orlov's  father,  the  distinguished  states- 

I  answered  that  Georgy  Ivanitch  was  not  at  home. 
The  old  man  pursed  up  his  lips  tightly  and  looked 
into  space,  reflecting,  showing  me  his  dried-up,  tooth- 
less profile. 

"  I'll  leave  a  note,"  he  said;  "  show  me  in." 

He  left  his  goloshes  in  the  hall,  and,  without  tak- 
ing off  his  long,  heavy  fur  coat,  went  into  the  study. 
There  he  sat  down  before  the  table,  and,  before 
taking  up  the  pen,  for  three  minutes  he  pondered, 
shading  his  eyes  with  his  hand  as  though  from  the 
sun  —  exactly  as  his  son  did  when  he  was  out  of 
humour.  His  face  was  sad,  thoughtful,  with  that 
look  of  resignation  which  I  have  only  seen  on  the 
faces  of  the  old  and  religious.     I  stood  behind  him, 

242  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

gazed  at  his  bald  head  and  at  the  hollow  at  the  nape 
of  his  neck,  and  it  was  clear  as  daylight  to  me  that 
this  weak  old  man  was  now  in  my  power.  There 
was  not  a  soul  in  the  flat  except  my  enemy  and  me. 
I  had  only  to  use  a  little  physical  violence,  then 
snatch  his  watch  to  disguise  the  object  of  the  crime, 
and  to  get  off  by  the  back  way,  and  I  should  have 
gained  infinitely  more  than  I  could  have  imagined 
possible  when  I  took  up  the  part  of  a  footman.  I 
thought  that  I  could  hardly  get  a  better  opportunity. 
But  instead  of  acting,  I  looked  quite  unconcernedly, 
first  at  his  bald  patch  and  then  at  his  fur,  and  calmly 
meditated  on  this  man's  relation  to  his  only  son,  and 
on  the  fact  that  people  spoiled  by  power  and  wealth 
probably  don't  want  to  die.  .  .  . 

"Have  you  been  long  in  my  son^s  service?"  he 
asked,  writing  a  large  hand  on  the  paper. 

"  Three  months,  your  High  Excellency." 

He  finished  the  letter  and  stood  up.  I  still  had 
time.  I  urged  myself  on  and  clenched  my  fists,  try- 
ing to  wring  out  of  my  soul  some  trace  of  my  former 
hatred;  I  recalled  what  a  passionate,  implacable,  ob- 
stinate hate  I  had  felt  for  him  only  a  little  while 
before.  .  .  .  But  it  is  difficult  to  strike  a  match 
against  a  crumbling  stone.  The  sad  old  face  and 
the  cold  glitter  of  his  stars  roused  in  me  nothing  but 
petty,  cheap,  unnecessary  thoughts  of  the  transitori- 
ness  of  everything  earthly,  of  the  nearness  of 
death.  .  .  . 

"  Good-day,  brother,"  said  the  old  man.  He  put 
on  his  cap  and  went  out. 

Tliere  could  be  no  doubt  about  it:  I  had  undergone 

An  Anonymous  Story  243 

a  change ;  I  had  become  different.  To  convince  my- 
self, I  began  to  recall  the  past,  but  at  once  I  felt  un- 
easy, as  though  I  had  accidentally  peeped  into  a 
dark,  damp  corner.  I  remembered  my  comrades 
and  friends,  and  my  first  thought  was  how  I  should 
blush  in  confusion  if  ever  I  met  any  of  them.  What 
was  I  now?  What  had  I  to  think  of  and  to  do? 
Where  was  I  to  go?     What  was  I  living  for? 

I  could  make  nothing  of  it.  I  only  knew  one 
thing  —  that  I  must  make  haste  to  pack  my  things 
and  be  off.  Before  the  old  man's  visit  my  position 
as  a  flunkey  had  a  meaning;  now  it  was  absurd. 
Tears  dropped  into  my  open  portmanteau;  I  felt  in- 
sufferably sad;  but  how  I  longed  to  live!  I  was 
ready  to  embrace  and  include  in  my  short  life  every 
possibility  open  to  man.  I  wanted  to  speak,  to  read, 
and  to  hammer  in  some  big  factory,  and  to  stand  on 
watch,  and  to  plough.  I  yearned  for  the  Nevsky 
Prospect,  for  the  sea  and  the  fields  —  for  every  place 
to  which  my  imagination  travelled.  When  Zinaida 
Fyodorovna  came  in,  I  rushed  to  open  the  door  for 
her,  and  with  peculiar  tenderness  took  off  her  fur 
coat.     The  last  time ! 

We  had  two  other  visitors  that  day  besides  the  old 
man.  In  the  evening  when  it  was  quite  dark,  Gruzin 
came  to  fetch  some  papers  for  Orlov.  He  opened 
the  table-drawer,  took  the  necessary  papers,  and, 
rolling  them  up,  told  me  to  put  them  in  the  hall  be- 
side his  cap  while  he  went  in  to  see  Zinaida  Fyodor- 
ovna. She  was  lying  on  the  sofa  in  the  drawing- 
room,  with  her  arms  behind  her  head.  Five  or  six 
days  had  already  passed  since  Orlov  w^ent  on  his  tour 

244  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

of  Inspection,  and  no  one  knew  when  he  would  be 
back,  but  this  time  she  did  not  send  telegrams  and 
did  not  expect  them.  She  did  not  seem  to  notice  the 
presence  of  Polya,  who  was  still  living  with  us. 
"  So  be  it,  then,"  was  what  I  read  on  her  passionless 
and  very  pale  face.  Like  Orlov,  she  wanted  to  be 
unhappy  out  of  obstinacy.  To  spite  herself  and 
everything  in  the  world,  she  lay  for  days  together  on 
the  sofa,  desiring  and  expecting  nothing  but  evil  for 
herself.  Probably  she  was  picturing  to  herself 
Orlov's  return  and  the  inevitable  quarrels  with  him; 
then  his  growing  indifference  to  her,  his  infidelities; 
then  how  they  would  separate;  and  perhaps  these 
agonising  thoughts  gave  her  satisfaction.  But  what 
would  she  have  said  if  she  found  out  the  actual 

"  I  love  you.  Godmother,"  said  Gruzin,  greeting 
her  and  kissing  her  hand.  ''  You  are  so  kind !  And 
so  dear  George  has  gone  away,"  he  lied.  "  He  has 
gone  away,  the  rascal!  " 

He  sat  down  with  a  sigh  and  tenderly  stroked  her 

"  Let  me  spend  an  hour  with  you,  my  dear,"  he 
said.  ''  I  don't  want  to  go  home,  and  it's  too  early 
to  go  to  the  Birshovs'.  The  Birshovs  are  keeping 
their  Katya's  birthday  to-day.     She  is  a  nice  child!  " 

I  brought  him  a  glass  of  tea  and  a  decanter  of 
brandy.  He  slowly  and  with  obvious  reluctance 
drank  the  tea,  and  returning  the  glass  to  me,  asked 

"  Can  you  give  me  .  .  .  something  to  eat,  my 
friend?     I  have  had  no  dinner." 

An  Anonymous  Story  245 

We  had  nothing  in  the  flat.  I  went  to  the  restau- 
rant and  brought  him  the  ordinary  rouble  dinner. 

*'  To  your  health,  my  dear,"  he  said  to  Zinaida 
Fyodorovna,  and  he  tossed  off  a  glass  of  vodka. 
*'  My  little  girl,  your  godchild,  sends  you  her  love. 
Poor  child!  she's  rickety.  Ah,  children,  children!  " 
he  sighed.  "  Whatever  you  may  say.  Godmother, 
it  is  nice  to  be  a  father.  Dear  George  can't  under- 
stand that  feeling." 

He  drank  some  more.  Pale  and  lean,  with  his 
dinner-napkin  over  his  chest  like  a  little  pinafore,  he 
ate  greedily,  and  raising  his  eyebrows,  kept  looking 
guiltily,  like  a  little  boy,  first  at  Zinaida  Fyodorovna 
and  then  at  me.  It  seemed  as  though  he  would  have 
begun  crying  if  I  had  not  given  him  the  grouse  or  the 
jelly.  When  he  had  satisfied  his  hunger  he  grew 
more  lively,  and  began  laughingly  telling  some  story 
about  the  Birshov  household,  but  perceiving  that  it 
was  tiresome  and  that  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  was  not 
laughing,  he  ceased.  And  there  was  a  sudden  feel- 
ing of  dreariness.  After  he  had  finished  his  dinner 
they  sat  in  the  drawing-room  by  the  light  of  a  single 
lamp,  and  did  not  speak;  it  was  painful  to  him  to  lie 
to  her,  and  she  wanted  to  ask  him  something,  but 
could  not  make  up  her  mind  to.  So  passed  half  an 
hour.     Gruzin  glanced  at  his  watch. 

"  I  suppose  it's  time  for  me  to  go." 

"  No,  stay  a  little.  .   .  .  We  must  have  a  talk." 

Again  they  were  silent.  He  sat  down  to  the 
piano,  struck  one  chord,  then  began  playing,  and 
sang  softly,  "  What  does  the  coming  day  bring  me?  " 
but  as  usual  he  got  up  suddenly  and  tossed  his  head. 

246  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

"  Play  something,"  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  asked 

"What  shall  I  play?"  he  asked,  shrugging  his 
shoulders.  "  I  have  forgotten  everything.  I've 
given  it  up  long  ago." 

Looking  at  the  ceiling  as  though  trying  to  remem- 
ber, he  played  two  pieces  of  Tchaikovsky  with  ex- 
quisite expression,  with  such  warmth,  such  insight! 
His  face  was  just  as  usual  —  neither  stupid  nor  in- 
telligent—  and  it  seemed  to  me  a  perfect  marvel 
that  a  man  whom  I  was  accustomed  to  see  in  the 
midst  of  the  most  degrading,  impure  surroundings, 
was  capable  of  such  purity,  of  rising  to  a  feeling  so 
lofty,  so  far  beyond  my  reach.  Zinaida  Fyodor- 
ovna's  face  glowed,  and  she  walked  about  the  draw- 
ing-room in  emotion. 

"  Wait  a  bit,  Godmother;  if  I  can  remember  it,  1 
will  play  you  something,"  he  said;  "  I  heard  it  played 
on  the  violoncello." 

Beginning  timidly  and  picking  out  the  notes,  and 
then  gathering  confidence,  he  played  Saint-Saens's 
"  Swan  Song."  He  played  it  through,  and  then 
played  It  a  second  time. 

"  It's  nice,  isn't  it?  "  he  said. 

Moved  by  the  music,  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  stood 
beside  him  and  asked: 

"  Tell  me  honestly,  as  a  friend,  what  do  you  think 
about  me?  " 

"What  am  I  to  say?"  he  said,  raising  his  eye- 
brows. "  I  love  you  and  think  nothing  but  good  of 
you.  But  If  you  wish  that  I  should  speak  generally 
about  the  question  that  Interests  you,"  he  went  on, 

An  Anonymous  Story  247 

rubbing  his  sleeve  near  the  elbow  and  frowning, 
"  then,  my  dear,  you  know.  .  .  .  To  follow  freely 
the  promptings  of  the  heart  does  not  always  give 
good  people  happiness.  To  feel  free  and  at  the 
same  time  to  be  happy,  it  seems  to  me,  one  must  not 
conceal  from  oneself  that  life  is  coarse,  cruel,  and 
merciless  in  its  conservatism,  and  one  must  retaliate 
with  what  it  deserves  —  that  is,  be  as  coarse  and  as 
merciless  in  one's  striving  for  freedom.  That's 
what  I  think." 

"  That's  beyond  me,"  said  Zinaida  Fyodorovna, 
with  a  mournful  smile.  ''  I  am  exhausted  already. 
I  am  so  exhausted  that  I  wouldn't  stir  a  finger  for 
my  own  salvation." 

"  Go  into  a  nunnery." 

He  said  this  in  jest,  but  after  he  had  said  it,  tears 
glistened  in  Zinaida  Fyodorovna's  eyes  and  then  in 

"  Well,"  he  said,  *'  we've  been  sitting  and  sitting, 
and  now  we  must  go.  Good-bye,  dear  Godmother. 
God  give  you  health." 

He  kissed  both  her  hands,  and  stroking  them  ten- 
derly, said  that  he  should  certainly  come  to  see  her 
again  in  a  day  or  two.  In  the  hall,  as  he  was  put- 
ting on  his  overcoat,  that  was  so  like  a  child's  pelisse, 
he  fumbled  long  in  his  pockets  to  find  a  tip  for  me, 
but  found  nothing  there. 

"  Good-bye,  my  dear  fellow,"  he  said  sadly,  and 
went  away. 

I  shall  never  forget  the  feeling  that  this  man  left 
behind  him. 

Zinaida  Fyodorovna  still  walked  about  the  room 

248  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

in  her  excitement.  That  she  was  walkuig  about  and 
not  still  lying  down  was  so  much  to  the  good.  I 
wanted  to  take  advantage  of  this  mood  to  speak  to 
her  openly  and  then  to  go  away,  but  I  had  hardly 
seen  Gruzin  out  when  I  heard  a  ring.  It  was  Ku- 

"  Is  Georgy  Ivanltch  at  home?  "  he  said.  *'  Has 
he  come  back?  You  say  no?  What  a  pity!  In 
that  case,  I'll  go  in  and  kiss  your  mistress's  hand, 
and  so  away.  Zinaida  Fyodorovna,  may  I  come 
in?  "he  cried.  "  I  want  to  kiss  your  hand.  Excuse 
my  being  so  late." 

He  was  not  long  in  the  drawing-room,  not  more 
than  ten  minutes,  but  I  felt  as  though  he  were  stay- 
ing a  long  while  and  would  never  go  away.  I  bit 
my  lips  from  indignation  and  annoyance,  and  already 
hated  Zinaida  Fyodorovna.  "  Why  does  she  not 
turn  him  out?  "  I  thought  indignantly,  though  it  was 
evident  that  she  was  bored  by  his  company. 

When  I  held  his  fur  coat  for  him  he  asked  me,  as 
a  mark  of  special  good-will,  how  I  managed  to  get 
on  without  a  wife. 

"  But  I  don't  suppose  you  waste  your  time,'*  he 
said,  laughingly.  "  IVe  no  doubt  Polya  and  you  are 
as  thick  as  thieves.  .  .  .  You  rascal !  " 

In  spite  of  my  experience  of  life,  I  knew  very  little 
of  mankind  at  that  time,  and  it  is  very  likely  that  I 
often  exaggerated  what  was  of  little  consequence  and 
failed  to  observe  what  was  important.  It  seemed 
to  me  it  was  not  without  motive  that  Kukushkin  tit- 
tered and  flattered  me.  Could  it  be  that  he  was  hop- 
ing that   I,   like   a   flunkey,   would  gossip   in   other 

An  Anonymous  Story  249 

kitchens  and  servants'  quarters  of  his  coming  to  see 
us  in  the  evenings  when  Orlov  was  away,  and  staying 
with  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  till  late  at  night?  And 
when  my  tittle-tattle  came  to  the  ears  of  his  acquaint- 
ance, he  would  drop  his  eyes  in  confusion  and  shake 
his  little  finger.  And  would  not  he,  I  thought,  look- 
ing at  his  little  honeyed  face,  this  very  evening  at 
cards  pretend  and  perhaps  declare  that  he  had  al- 
ready won  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  from  Orlov? 

That  hatred  which  failed  me  at  midday  when  the 
old  father  had  come,  took  possession  of  me  now. 
Kukushkin  went  away  at  last,  and  as  I  listened  to  the 
shuffle  of  his  leather  goloshes,  I  felt  greatly  tempted 
to  fling  after  him,  as  a  parting  shot,  some  coarse 
word  of  abuse,  but  I  restrained  myself.  And  when 
the  steps  had  died  away  on  the  stairs,  I  went  back 
to  the  hall,  and,  hardly  conscious  of  what  I  was 
doing,  took  up  the  roll  of  papers  that  Gruzin  had 
left  behind,  and  ran  headlong  downstairs.  With- 
out cap  or  overcoat,  I  ran  down  Into  the  street.  It 
was  not  cold,  but  big  flakes  of  snow  were  falling  and 
it  was  windy. 

*^  Your  Excellency!  "  I  cried,  catching  up  Kukush- 
kin.    "  Your  Excellency!  " 

He  stopped  under  a  lamp-post  and  looked  round 
with  surprise. 

"Your  Excellency!"  I  said  breathless,  "your 
Excellency!  " 

And  not  able  to  think  of  anything  to  say,  I  hit 
him  two  or  three  times  on  the  face  with  the  roll  of 
paper.  Completely  at  a  loss,  and  hardly  wonder- 
ing —  I  had  so  completely  taken  him  by  surprise  — 

250  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

he  leaned  his  back  against  the  lamp-post  and  put  up 
his  hands  to  protect  his  face.  i\t  that  moment  an 
army  doctor  passed,  and  saw  how  I  w^as  beating  the 
man,  but  he  merely  lool<:ed  at  us  in  astonishment  and 
went  on.    I  felt  ashamed  and  I  ran  back  to  the  house. 


With  my  head  wet  from  the  snow,  and  gasping 
for  breath,  I  ran  to  my  room,  and  immediately  flung 
off  my  swallow-tails,  put  on  a  reefer  jacket  and  an 
overcoat,  and  carried  my  portmanteau  out  Into  the 
passage;  I  must  get  away!  But  before  going  I  hur- 
riedly sat  down  and  began  writing  to  Orlov : 

"  I  leave  you  my  false  passport,"  I  began.  "  I 
beg  you  to  keep  It  as  a  memento,  you  false  man,  you 
Petersburg  official! 

"  To  steal  Into  another  man's  house  under  a  false 
name,  to  watch  under  the  mask  of  a  flunkey  this  per- 
son's Intimate  life,  to  hear  everything,  to  see  every- 
thing in  order  later  on,  unasked,  to  accuse  a  man  of 
lying  —  all  this,  you  will  say,  is  on  a  level  with  theft. 
Yes,  but  I  care  nothing  for  fine  feelings  now.  I  have 
endured  dozens  of  your  dinners  and  suppers  when 
you  said  and  did  what  you  liked,  and  I  had  to  hear, 
to  look  on,  and  be  silent.  I  don't  want  to  make  you 
a  present  of  my  silence.  Besides,  if  there  is  not  a 
living  soul  at  hand  who  dares  to  tell  you  the  truth 
without  flattery,  let  your  flunkey  Stepan  wash  your 
magnificent  countenance  for  you." 

I  did  not  like  this  beginning,  but  I  did  not  care  to 
alter  it.     Besides,  what  did  it  matter? 

An  Anonymous  Story  251 

The  big  windows  with  their  dark  curtains,  the  bed, 
the  crumpled  dress  coat  on  the  floor,  and  my  wet 
footprints,  looked  gloomy  and  forbidding.  And 
there  was  a  peculiar  stillness. 

Possibly  because  I  had  run  out  into  the  street  with- 
out my  cap  and  goloshes  I  was  in  a  high  fever.  My 
face  burned,  my  legs  ached.  .  .  .  My  heavy  head 
drooped  over  the  table,  and  there  was  that  kind  of 
division  in  my  thought  when  every  idea  in  the  brain 
seemed  dogged  by  its  shadow. 

*'  I  am  ill,  weak,  morally  cast  down,"  I  went  on; 
*'  I  cannot  write  to  you  as  I  should  like  to.  For  the 
first  moment  I  desired  to  insult  and  humiliate  you, 
but  now  I  do  not  feel  that  I  have  the  right  to  do  so. 
You  and  I  have  both  fallen,  and  neither  of  us  will 
ever  rise  up  again;  and  even  if  my  letter  were  elo- 
quent, terrible,  and  passionate,  it  would  still  seem 
like  beating  on  the  lid  of  a  coffin:  however  one 
knocks  upon  it,  one  will  not  wake  up  the  dead !  No 
efforts  could  warm  your  accursed  cold  blood,  and  you 
know  that  better  than  I  do.  Why  write?  But  my 
mind  and  heart  are  burning,  and  I  go  on  writing;  for 
some  reason  I  am  moved  as  though  this  letter  still 
might  save  you  and  me.  I  am  so  feverish  that  my 
thoughts  are  disconnected,  and  my  pen  scratches  the 
paper  without  meaning;  but  the  question  I  want  to 
put  to  you  stands  before  me  as  clear  as  though  in 
letters  of  flame. 

"  Why  I  am  prematurely  weak  and  fallen  is  not 
hard  to  explain.  Like  Samson  of  old,  I  have  taken 
the  gates  of  Gaza  on  my  shoulders  to  carry  them  to 
the  top  of  the  mountain,  and  only  when  I  was  ex- 

2^2  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

hausted,  when  youth  and  health  were  quenched  In 
me  forever,  I  noticed  that  that  burden  was  not  for 
my  shoulders,  and  that  I  had  deceived  myself.  I 
have  been,  moreover.  In  cruel  and  continual  pain. 
I  have  endured  cold,  hunger,  illness,  and  loss  of  lib- 
erty. Of  personal  happiness  I  know  and  have 
known  nothing.  I  have  no  home ;  my  memories  are 
bitter,  and  my  conscience  is  often  in  dread  of  them. 
But  why  have  you  fallen  —  you?  What  fatal,  dia- 
bolical causes  hindered  your  life  from  blossoming 
Into  full  flower?  Why,  almost  before  beginning 
life,  were  you  In  such  haste  to  cast  off  the  image  and 
likeness  of  God,  and  to  become  a  cowardly  beast 
who  backs  and  scares  others  because  he  Is  afraid  him- 
self? You  are  afraid  of  life  —  as  afraid  of  It  as 
an  Oriental  who  sits  all  day  on  a  cushion  smoking 
his  hookah.  Yes,  you  read  a  great  deal,  and  a  Euro- 
pean coat  fits  you  well,  but  yet  with  what  tender, 
purely  Oriental,  pasha-like  care  you  protect  yourself 
from  hunger,  cold,  physical  effort,  from  pain  and 
uneasiness !  How  early  your  soul  has  taken  to  Its 
dressing-gown !  What  a  cowardly  part  you  have 
played  towards  real  life  and  nature,  with  which  every 
healthy  and  normal  man  struggles  !  How  soft,  how 
snug,  how  warm,  how  comfortable  —  and  how  bored 
you  are !  Yes,  it  is  deathly  boredom,  unrelieved  by 
one  ray  of  light,  as  in  solitary  confinement;  but  you 
try  to  hide  from  that  enemy,  too,  you  play  cards  eight 
hours  out  of  twenty-four. 

"And  your  Irony?  Oh,  but  how  well  I  under- 
stand it!  Free,  bold,  living  thought  is  searching 
and  dominating;  for  an  Indolent,  sluggish  mind  it  Is 

An  Anonymous  Story  253 

intolerable.  That  it  may  not  disturb  your  peace, 
like  thousands  of  your  contemporaries,  you  made 
haste  in  youth  to  put  it  under  bar  and  bolt.  Your 
ironical  attitude  to  life,  or  whatever  you  like  to  call 
it,  is  your  armour;  and  your  thought,  fettered  and 
frightened,  dare  not  leap  over  the  fence  you  have 
put  round  it;  and  when  you  jeer  at  ideas  which  you 
pretend  to  know  all  about,  you  are  like  the  deserter 
fleeing  from  the  field  of  battle,  and,  to  stifle  his 
shame,  sneering  at  war  and  at  valour.  Cynicism 
stifles  pain.  In  some  novel  of  Dostoevsky's  an  old 
man  tramples  underfoot  the  portrait  of  his  dearly 
loved  daughter  because  he  had  been  unjust  to  her, 
and  you  vent  your  foul  and  vulgar  jeers  upon  the 
ideas  of  goodness  and  truth  because  you  have  not 
the  strength  to  follow  them.  You  are  frightened  of 
every  honest  and  truthful  hint  at  your  degradation, 
and  you  purposely  surround  yourself  with  people 
who  do  nothing  but  flatter  your  weaknesses.  And 
you  may  well,  you  may  well  dread  the  sight  of  tears ! 
*'  By  the  way,  your  attitude  to  women.  Shame- 
lessness  has  been  handed  down  to  us  in  our  flesh  and 
blood,  and  we  are  trained  to  shamelessness;  but  that 
is  what  we  are  men  for  —  to  subdue  the  beast  in  us. 
When  you  reached  manhood  and  all  ideas  became 
known  to  you,  you  could  not  have  failed  to  see  the 
truth;  you  knew  it,  but  you  did  not  follow  it;  you 
were  afraid  of  it,  and  to  deceive  your  conscience  you 
began  loudly  assuring  yourself  that  it  was  not  you 
but  woman  that  was  to  blame,  that  she  was  as  de- 
graded as  your  attitude  to  her.  Your  cold,  scabrous 
anecdotes,  your  coarse  laughter,  all  your  innumer- 

254  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

able  theories  concerning  the  underlying  reality  of 
marriage  and  the  Indefinite  demands  made  upon  it, 
concerning  the  ten  sous  the  French  workman  pays 
his  woman;  your  everlasting  attacks  on  female  logic, 
lying,  weakness  and  so  on  —  doesn't  it  all  look  like 
a  desire  at  all  costs  to  force  woman  down  into  the 
mud  that  she  may  be  on  the  same  level  as  your  atti- 
tude to  her?  lYou  are  a  weak,  unhappy,  unpleasant 
person !  " 

Zinalda  Fyodorovna  began  playing  the  piano  In 
the  drawing-room,  trying  to  recall  the  song  of  Saint- 
Saens  that  Gruzin  had  played.  I  went  and  lay  on 
my  bed,  but  remembering  that  it  was  time  for  me  to 
go,  I  got  up  with  an  effort  and  with  a  heavy,  burning 
head  went  to  the  table  again. 

"  But  this  is  the  question,"  I  went  on.  "  Why 
are  we  worn  out?  Why  are  we,  at  first  so  passion- 
ate, so  bold,  so  noble,  and  so  full  of  faith,  complete 
bankrupts  at  thirty  or  thirty-five?  Why  does  one 
waste  in  consumption,  another  put  a  bullet  through 
his  brains,  a  third  seeks  forgetfulness  in  vodka  and 
cards,  while  the  fourth  tries  to  stifle  his  fear  and 
misery  by  cynically  trampling  underfoot  the  pure 
Image  of  his  fair  youth?  Why  is  It  that,  having 
once  fallen,  we  do  not  try  to  rise  up  again,  and, 
losing  one  thing,  do  not  seek  something  else?  ^hy 
is  it? 

"  The  thief  hanging  on  the  Cross  could  bring  back 
the  joy  of  life  and  the  courage  of  confident  hope, 
though  perhaps  he  had  not  more  than  an  hour  to 
live.  You  have  long  years  before  you,  and  I  shall 
probably  not   die   so   soon   as  one  might   suppose. 

An  Anonymous  Story  255 

What  if  by  a  miracle  the  present  turned  out  to  be  a 
dream,  a  horrible  nightmare,  and  we  should  wake  up 
renewed,  pure,  strong,  proud  of  our  righteousness? 
Sweet  visions  fire  me,  and  I  am  almost  breathless 
with  emotion.  I  have  a  terrible  longing  to  live.  I 
long  for  our  life  to  be  holy,  lofty,  and  majestic  as  the 
heavens  above.  Let  us  live !  The  sun  doesn't  rise 
twice  a  day,  and  hfe  is  not  given  us  again  —  clutch 
at  what  is  left  of  your  life  and  save  it.   .  .  ." 

I  did  not  write  another  word.  I  had  a  multitude 
of  thoughts  in  my  mind,  but  I  could  not  connect  them 
and  get  them  on  to  paper.  Without  finishing  the 
letter,  I  signed  it  with  my  name  and  rank,  and  went 
into  the  study.  It  was  dark.  I  felt  for  the  table 
and  put  the  letter  on  it.  I  must  have  stumbled 
against  the  furniture  in  the  dark  and  made  a 

"  Who  is  there?  "  I  heard  an  alarmed  voice  in  the 

And  the  clock  on  the  table  softly  struck  one  at  the 


For  at  least  half  a  minute  I  fumbled  at  the  door 
in  the  dark,  feeling  for  the  handle;  then  I  slowly 
opened  it  and  walked  into  the  drawing-room. 
Zinaida  Fyodorovna  was  lying  on  the  couch,  and 
raising  herself  on  her  elbow,  she  looked  towards  me. 
Unable  to  bring  myself  to  speak,  I  walked  slowly 
by,  and  she  followed  me  with  her  eyes.  I  stood  for 
a  little  time  in  the  dining-room  and  then  walked  by 
her  again,  and  she  looked  at  me  intently  and  with 

256  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

perplexity,  even  with  alarm.  At  last  I  stood  still 
and  said  with  an  effort : 

"  He  is  not  coming  back." 

She  quickly  got  on  to  her  feet,  and  looked  at  me 
without  understanding. 

"  He  is  not  coming  back,"  I  repeated,  and  my 
heart  beat  violently.  "  He  will  not  come  back,  for 
he  has  not  left  Petersburg.  He  is  staying  at  Pekar- 

She  understood  and  believed  me  —  I  saw  that 
from  her  sudden  pallor,  and  from  the  way  she  laid 
her  arms  upon  her  bosom  in  terror  and  entreaty. 
In  one  instant  all  that  had  happened  of  late  flashed 
through  her  mind;  she  reflected,  and  with  pitiless 
clarity  she  saw  the  whole  truth.  But  at  the  same 
time  she  remembered  that  I  was  a  flunkey,  a  being  of 
a  lower  order.  ...  A  casual  stranger,  with  hair 
ruflied,  with  face  flushed  with  fever,  perhaps  drunk, 
in  a  common  overcoat,  was  coarsely  intruding  into 
her  intimate  life,  and  that  offended  her.  She  said 
to  me  sternly: 

"  It's  not  your  business :  go  away." 

*'  Oh,  believe  me!  "  I  cried  impetuously,  holding 
out  my  hands  to  her.  *'  I  am  not  a  footman;  I  am 
as  free  as  you." 

I  mentioned  my  name,  and,  speaking  very  rapidly 
that  she  might  not  interrupt  me  or  go  away,  ex- 
plained to  her  who  I  was  and  why  I  was  living  there. 
This  new  discovery  struck  her  more  than  the  first. 
Till  then  she  had  hoped  that  her  footman  had  lied 
or  made  a  mistake  or  been  silly,  but  now  after  my 
confession  she  had  no  doubts  left.     From  the  expres- 

An  Anonymous  Story  257 

sion  of  her  unhappy  eyes  and  face,  which  suddenly 
lost  Its  softness  and  beauty  and  looked  old,  I  saw 
that  she  was  insufferably  miserable,  and  that  the 
conversation  would  lead  to  no  good;  but  I  went  on 

"  The  senator  and  the  tour  of  inspection  were  in- 
vented to  deceive  you.  In  January,  just  as  now, 
he  did  not  go  away,  but  stayed  at  Pekarsky's,  and  I 
saw  him  every  day  and  took  part  in  the  deception. 
He  was  weary  of  you,  he  hated  your  presence  here, 
he  mocked  at  you.  ...  If  you  could  have  heard 
how  he  and  his  friends  here  jeered  at  you  and  your 
love,  you  would  not  have  remained  here  one  minute ! 
Go  av/ay  from  here!     Go  away." 

"  Well,"  she  said  In  a  shaking  voice,  and  moved 
her  hand  over  her  hair.     ^'  Well,  so  be  it." 

Her  eyes  were  full  of  tears,  her  lips  were  quiver- 
ing, and  her  whole  face  was  strikingly  pale  and  dis- 
torted with  anger.  Orlov's  coarse,  petty  lying  re- 
volted her  and  seemed  to  her  contemptible,  ridicu- 
lous :  she  smiled  and  I  did  not  like  that  smile. 

''  Well,"  she  repeated,  passing  her  hand  over  her 
hair  again,  "  so  be  it.  He  imagines  that  I  shall  die 
of  humiliation,  and  Instead  of  that  I  am  .  .  . 
amused  by  it.  There's  no  need  for  him  to  hide." 
She  walked  away  from  the  piano  and  said,  shrugging 
her  shoulders:  "There's  no  need.  ...  It  would 
have  been  simpler  to  have  It  out  with  me  instead  of 
keeping  in  hiding  In  other  people's  flats.  I  have 
eyes;  I  saw  It  myself  long  ago.  ...  I  was  only 
waiting  for  him  to  come  back  to  have  things  out  once 
for  all," 

258  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

Then  she  sat  down  on  a  low  chair  by  the  table, 
and,  leaning  her  head  on  the  arm  of  the  sofa,  wept 
bitterly.  In  the  drawing-room  there  was  only  one 
candle  burning  in  the  candelabra,  and  the  chair  where 
she  was  sitting  was  in  darkness;  but  I  saw  how  her 
head  and  shoulders  were  quivering,  and  how  her 
hair,  escaping  from  her  combs,  covered  her  neck,  her 
face,  her  arms.  .  .  .  Her  quiet,  steady  weeping, 
which  was  not  hysterical  but  a  woman's  ordinary 
weeping,  expressed  a  sense  of  Insult,  of  wounded 
pride,  of  injury,  and  of  something  helpless,  hopeless, 
which  one  could  not  set  right  and  to  which  one  could 
not  get  used.  Her  tears  stirred  an  echo  in  my 
troubled  and  suffering  heart;  I  forgot  my  Illness  and 
everything  else  In  the  world;  I  walked  about  the 
drawing-room  and  muttered  distractedly: 

^'  Is  this  life?  .  .  .  Oh,  one  can't  go  on  living  like 
this,  one  can't.  .  .  .  Oh,  it's  madness,  wickedness, 
not  life." 

"  What  humiliation!  "  she  said  through  her  tears. 
*'  To  live  together,  to  smile  at  me  at  the  very  time 
when  I  was  burdensome  to  him,  ridiculous  In  his 
eyes!     Oh,  how  humiliating!  " 

She  lifted  up  her  head,  and  looking  at  me  with 
tear-stained  eyes  through  her  hair,  wet  with  her 
tears,  and  pushing  it  back  as  it  prevented  her  seeing 
me,  she  asked: 

"  They  laughed  at  me?  " 

"  To  these  men  you  were  laughable  —  you  and 
your  love  and  Turgenev;  they  said  your  head  was 
full  of  him.  And  if  we  both  die  at  once  in  despair, 
that  will  amuse  them,  too;  they  will  make  a  funny 

An  Anonymous  Story  259 

anecdote  of  It  and  tell  it  at  your  requiem  service. 
But  why  talk  of  them?  "  I  said  Impatiently.  *'  We 
must  get  away  from  here  —  I  cannot  stay  here  one 
minute  longer." 

She  began  crying  again,  while  I  walked  to  the 
piano  and  sat  down. 

^*  What  are  we  waiting  for?  "  I  asked  dejectedly. 
''  It's  two  o'clock." 

*'  I  am  not  waiting  for  anything,"  she  said.  "  I 
am  utterly  lost." 

"  Why  do  you  talk  like  that  ?  W^e  had  better  con- 
sider together  what  we  are  to  do.  Neither  you  nor 
I  can  stay  here.     Where  do  you  Intend  to  go?  " 

Suddenly  there  was  a  ring  at  the  bell.  My  heart 
stood  still.  Could  It  be  Orlov,  to  whom  perhaps 
Kukushkin  had  complained  of  me?  How  should 
we  meet?  I  went  to  open  the  door.  It  was  Polya. 
She  came  In  shaking  the  snow  off  her  pelisse,  and 
went  Into  her  room  without  saying  a  word  to  me. 
When  I  went  back  to  the  drawing-room,  ZInaida 
Fyodorovna,  pale  as  death,  was  standing  in  the  mid- 
dle of  the  room,  looking  towards  me  with  big  eyes. 

"  Who  was  It?  "  she  asked  softly. 

"  Polya,"  I  answered. 

She  passed  her  hand  over  her  hair  and  closed  her 
eyes  wearily. 

"  I  will  go  away  at  once,"  she  said.  *'  Will  you 
be  kind  and  take  me  to  the  Petersburg  Side  ?  What 
time  is  It  now?  " 

"  A  quarter  to  three." 

26o  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 


When,  a  little  afterwards,  we  went  out  of  the 
house,  It  was  dark  and  deserted  in  the  street.  Wet 
snow  was  falling  and  a  damp  wind  lashed  in  one's 
face.  I  remember  It  was  the  beginning  of  March; 
a  thaw  had  set  In,  and  for  some  days  past  the 
cabmen  had  been  driving  on  wheels.  Under  the 
Impression  of  the  back  stairs,  of  the  cold,  of  the  mid- 
night darkness,  and  the  porter  In  his  sheepskin  who 
had  questioned  us  before  letting  us  out  of  the  gate, 
ZInalda  Fyodorovna  was  utterly  cast  down  and  dis- 
pirited. When  we  got  Into  the  cab  and  the  hood 
was  put  up,  trembling  all  over,  she  began  hurriedly 
saying  how  grateful  she  was  to  me. 

"  I  do  not  doubt  your  good-will,  but  I  am  ashamed 
that  you  should  be  troubled,"  she  muttered.  "  Oh, 
I  understand,  I  understand.  .  .  .  When  Gruzin  was 
here  to-day,  I  felt  that  he  was  lying  and  concealing 
something.  Well,  so  be  it.  But  I  am  ashamed, 
anyway,  that  you  should  be  troubled." 

She  still  had  her  doubts.  To  dispel  them  finally, 
I  asked  the  cabman  to  drive  through  Sergievsky 
Street;  stopping  him  at  Pekarsky's  door,  I  got  out 
of  the  cab  and  rang.  When  the  porter  came  to  the 
door,  I  asked  aloud,  that  ZInalda  Fyodorovna 
might  hear,  whether  Georgy  Ivanitch  was  at  home. 

"  Yes,"  was  the  answer,  "  he  came  In  half  an  hour 
ago.  He  must  be  In  bed  by  now.  What  do  you 
want?  " 

ZInalda  Fyodorovna  could  not  refrain  from  put- 
ting her  head  out. 

An  Anonymous  Story  261 

*'  Has  Georgy  Ivanitch  been  staying  here  long?  " 
she  asked. 

*'  Going  on  for  three  weeks." 

^'  And  he's  not  been  away?  " 

*'  No,"  answered  the  porter,  looking  at  me  with 

"  Tell  him,  early  to-morrow,"  I  said,  "  that  his 
sister  has  arrived  from  Warsaw.     Good-bye." 

[Then  we  drove  on.  The  cab  had  no  apron,  the 
snow  fell  on  us  in  big  flakes,  and  the  wind,  especially 
on  the  Neva,  pierced  us  through  and  through.  I 
began  to  feel  as  though  we  had  been  driving  for 
a  long  time,  that  for  ages  we  had  been  suffering, 
and  that  for  ages  I  had  been  listening  to  Zinaida 
Fyodorovna's  shuddering  breath.  In  semi-delirium, 
as  though  half  asleep,  I  looked  back  upon  my 
strange,  incoherent  life,  and  for  some  reason  re- 
called a  melodrama,  '*  The  Parisian  Beggars,"  which 
I  had  seen  once  or  twice  in  my  childhood.  And 
when  to  shake  off  that  semi-delirium  I  peeped  out 
from  the  hood  and  saw  the  dawn,  all  the  images  of 
the  past,  all  my  misty  thoughts,  for  some  reason, 
blended  in  me  into  one  distinct,  overpowering 
thought:  everything  was  irrevocably  over  for  Zinaida 
Fyodorovna  and  for  me.  This  was  as  certain  a  con- 
viction as  though  the  cold  blue  sky  contained  a 
prophecy,  but  a  minute  later  I  was  already  thinking 
of  something  else  and  believed  differently. 

''What  am  I  now?"  said  Zinaida  Fyodorovna, 
in  a  voice  husky  with  the  cold  and  the  damp. 
''  Where  am  I  to  go?  What  am  I  to  do?  Gruzin 
told  me  to  go  into  a  nunnery.     Oh,  I  would!     I 

262  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

would  change  my  dress,  my  face,  my  name,  my 
thoughts  .  .  .  everything  —  everything,  and  would 
hide  myself  for  ever.  But  they  will  not  take  me 
into  a  nunnery.     I  am  with  child." 

"  We  will  go  abroad  together  to-morrow,"  I 

"  That's  impossible.  My  husband  won't  give  me 
a  passport." 

''  I  will  take  you  without  a,  passport." 

The  cabman  stopped  at  a  wooden  house  of  two 
storeys,  painted  a  dark  colour.  I  rang.  Taking 
from  me  her  small  light  basket  —  the  only  luggage 
we  had  brought  with  us  —  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  gave 
a  wry  smile  and  said: 

"  These  are  my  bijoux/' 

But  she  was  so  weak  that  she  could  not  carry  these 

It  was  a  long  while  before  the  door  was  opened. 
After  the  third  or  fourth  ring  a  light  gleamed  in 
the  windows,  and  there  was  a  sound  of  steps,  cough- 
ing and  whispering;  at  last  the  key  grated  in  the  lock, 
and  a  stout  peasant  woman  with  a  frightened  red 
face  appeared  at  the  door.  Some  distance  behind 
her  stood  a  thin  little  old  woman  with  short  grey 
hair,  carrying  a  candle  in  her  hand.  Zinaida  Fyodo- 
rovna ran  into  the  passage  and  flung  her  arms  round 
the  old  woman's  neck. 

"  Nina,  I've  been  deceived,"  she  sobbed  loudly. 
**  I've  been  coarsely,  foully  deceived!  Nina, 

I  handed  the  basket  to  the  peasant  woman.     The 

An  Anonymous  Story  263 

door  was  closed,  but  still  I  heard  her  sobs  and  the 
cry  ''  Nina !  '' 

I  got  into  the  cab  and  told  the  man  to  drive 
slowly  to  the  Nevsky  Prospect.  I  had  to  think  of  a 
night's  lodging  for  myself. 

Next  day  towards  evening  I  went  to  see  Zinaida 
Fyodorovna.  She  was  terribly  changed.  There 
were  no  traces  of  tears  on  her  pale,  terribly  sunken 
face,  and  her  expression  was  different.  I  don't 
know  whether  it  was  that  I  saw  her  now  in  different 
surroundings,  far  from  luxurious,  and  that  our  rela- 
tions were  by  now  different,  or  perhaps  that  intense 
grief  had  already  set  its  mark  upon  her;  she  did  not 
strike  me  as  so  elegant  and  well  dressed  as  before. 
Her  figure  seemed  smaller;  there  was  an  abruptness 
and  excessive  nervousness  about  her  as  though  she 
were  in  a  hurry,  and  there  was  not  the  same  softness 
even  in  her  smile.  I  was  dressed  in  an  expensive  suit 
which  I  had  bought  during  the  day.  She  looked  first 
of  all  at  that  suit  and  at  the  hat  in  my  hand,  then 
turned  an  impatient,  searching  glance  upon  my  face 
as  though  studying  it. 

"  Your  transformation  still  seems  to  me  a  sort 
of  miracle,"  she  said.  *^  Forgive  me  for  looking  at 
you  with  such  curiosity.  You  are  an  extraordinary 
man,  you  know." 

I  told  her  again  who  I  was,  and  why  I  was  living 
at  Orlov's,  and  I  told  her  at  greater  length  and  in 
more  detail  than  the  day  before.  She  listened  with 
great  attention,  and  said  without  letting  me  finish: 

"  Everything  there  is  over  for  me.     You  know, 

264  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

I  could  not  refrain  from  writing  a  letter.     Here  is 
the  answer." 

On  the  sheet  which  she  gave  there  was  written  in 
Orlov's  hand: 

"  I  am  not  going  to  justify  myself.  But  you 
must  own  that  it  was  your  mistake,  not  mine.  I  wish 
you  happiness,  and  beg  you  to  make  haste  and  for- 
get. Yours  sincerely, 

"  G.  O. 

"  P.  S. —  I  am  sending  on  your  things." 

The  trunks  and  baskets  despatched  by  Orlov  were 
standing  in  the  passage,  and  my  poor  little  portman- 
teau was  there  beside  them, 

"So  .  .  ."  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  began,  but  she 
did  not  finish. 

We  were  silent.  She  took  the  note  and  held  it 
for  a  couple  of  minutes  before  her  eyes,  and  during 
that  time  her  face  wore  the  same  haughty,  con- 
temptuous, proud,  and  harsh  expression  as  the  day 
before  at  the  beginning  of  our  explanation;  tears 
came  into  her  eyes  —  not  timid,  bitter  tears,  but 
proud,  angry  tears. 

"  Listen,"  she  said,  getting  up  abruptly  and  mov- 
ing away  to  the  window  that  I  might  not  see  her  face. 
"  I  have  made  up  my  mind  to  go  abroad  with  you  to- 

"  I  am  very  glad.     I  am  ready  to  go  to-day." 

"  Accept  me  as  a  recruit.  Have  you  read  Bal- 
zac?" she  asked  suddenly,  turning  round.  "Have 
you?  At  the  end  of  his  novel  '  Pere  Goriot '  the 
hero  looks  down  upon  Paris  from  the  top  of  a  hill 

An  Anonymous  Story  265 

and  threatens  the  town:  '  Now  we  shall  settle  our 
account,'  and  after  this  he  begins  a  new  life.  So 
when  I  look  out  of  the  train  window  at  Petersburg 
for  the  last  time,  I  shall  say,  '  Now  we  shall  settle 
our  account!  '  " 

Saying  this,  she  smiled  at  her  jest,  and  for  some 
reason  shuddered  all  over. 


At  Venice  I  had  an  attack  of  pleurisy.  Probably 
I  had  caught  cold  in  the  evening  when  we  were 
rowing  from  the  station  to  the  Hotel  Bauer.  I  had 
to  take  to  my  bed  and  stay  there  for  a  fortnight. 
Every  morning  while  I  was  ill  Zinaida  Fyodorovna 
came  from  her  room  to  drink  coffee  with  me,  and 
afterwards  read  aloud  to  me  French  and  Russian 
books,  of  which  we  had  bought  a  number  at  Vienna. 
These  books  were  either  long,  long  familiar  to  me  or 
else  had  no  Interest  for  me,  but  I  had  the  sound  of  a 
sweet,  kind  voice  beside  me,  so  that  the  meaning  of 
all  of  them  was  summed  up  for  me  in  the  one  thing 
—  I  was  not  alone.  She  would  go  out  for  a  walk, 
come  back  in  her  light  grey  dress,  her  light  straw  hat, 
gay,  warmed  by  the  spring  sun;  and  sitting  by  my 
bed,  bending  low  down  over  me,  would  tell  me  some- 
thing about  Venice  or  read  me  those  books  —  and  I 
was  happy. 

At  night  I  was  cold,  ill,  and  dreary,  but  by  day 
I  revelled  in  life  —  I  can  find  no  better  expression 
for  it.  The  brilliant  warm  sunshine  beating  In  at 
the  open  windows  and  at  the  door  upon  the  bal- 

266  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

cony,  the  shouts  below,  the  splash  of  oars,  the  tinkle 
of  bells,  the  prolonged  boom  of  the  cannon  at  mid- 
day, and  the  feeling  of  perfect,  perfect  freedom, 
did  wonders  with  me;  I  felt  as  though  I  were  grow- 
ing strong,  broad  wings  which  were  bearing  me  God 
knows  whither.  And  what  charm,  what  joy  at  times 
at  the  thought  that  another  life  was  so  close  to  mine ! 
that  I  was  the  servant,  the  guardian,  the  friend,  the 
indispensable  fellow-traveller  of  a  creature,  young, 
beautiful,  wealthy,  but  weak,  lonely,  and  Insulted! 
It  is  pleasant  even  to  be  111  when  you  know  that  there 
are  people  who  are  looking  forward  to  your  convales- 
cence as  to  a  holiday.  One  day  I  heard  her  whisper- 
ing behind  the  door  with  my  doctor,  and  then  she 
came  In  to  me  with  tear-stained  eyes.  It  was  a  bad 
sign,  but  I  was  touched,  and  there  was  a  wonderful 
lightness  In  my  heart. 

But  at  last  they  allowed  me  to  go  out  on  the  bal- 
cony. The  sunshine  and  the  breeze  from  the  sea 
caressed  and  fondled  my  sick  body.  I  looked  down 
at  the  familiar  gondolas,  which  glide  with  feminine 
grace  smoothly  and  majestically  as  though  they  were 
alive,  and  felt  all  the  luxury  of  this  original,  fascinat- 
ing civilisation.  There  was  a  smell  of  the  sea. 
Some  one  was  playing  a  stringed  Instrument  and  two 
voices  were  singing.  How  delightful  it  was !  How 
unlike  it  was  to  that  Petersburg  night  when  the  wet 
snow  was  falling  and  beating  so  rudely  on  our  faces. 
If  one  looks  straight  across  the  canal,  one  sees  the 
sea,  and  on  the  wide  expanse  towards  the  horizon  the 
sun  glittered  on  the  water  so  dazzlingly  that  It  hurt 
one's  eyes  to  look  at  It.     My  soul  yearned  tov/ards 

An  Anonymous  Story  267 

that  lovely  sea,  which  was  so  akin  to  me  and  to  which 
I  had  given  up  my  youth.  I  longed  to  live  —  to  live 
—  and  nothing  more. 

A  fortnight  later  I  began  walking  freely.  I  loved 
to  sit  in  the  sun,  and  to  listen  to  the  gondoliers  with- 
out understanding  them,  and  for  hours  together  to 
gaze  at  the  little  house  where,  they  said,  Desdemona 
lived  —  a  naive,  mournful  little  house  with  a  demure 
expression,  as  light  as  lace,  so  light  that  it  looked  as 
though  one  could  lift  it  from  its  place  with  one  hand. 
I  stood  for  a  long  time  by  the  tomb  of  Canova,  and 
could  not  take  my  eyes  off  the  melancholy  lion.  And 
in  the  Palace  of  the  Doges  I  was  always  drawn  to 
the  corner  where  the  portrait  of  the  unhappy  Marino 
Faliero  was  painted  over  with  black.  "  It  Is  fine  to 
be  an  artist,  a  poet,  a  dramatist,"  I  thought,  "  but 
since  that  is  not  vouchsafed  to  me,  if  only  I  could  go 
in  for  mysticism!  If  only  I  had  a  grain  of  some 
faith  to  add  to  the  unruffled  peace  and  serenity  that 
fills  the  soul!" 

In  the  evening  we  ate  oysters,  drank  wine,  and 
went  out  in  a  gondola.  I  remember  our  black  gon- 
dola swayed  softly  in  the  same  place  while  the  water 
faintly  gurgled  under  it.  Here  and  there  the  reflec- 
tion of  the  stars  and  the  lights  on  the  bank  quivered 
and  trembled.  Not  far  from  us  in  a  gondola,  hung 
with  coloured  lanterns  which  were  reflected  in  the 
water,  there  were  people  singing.  The  sounds  of 
guitars,  of  violins,  of  mandolins,  of  men's  and 
women's  voices,  were  audible  in  the  dark.  Zinalda 
Fyodorovna,  pale,  with  a  grave,  almost  stern  face, 
was   sitting   beside   me,    compressing   her   lips    and 

268  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

clenching  her  hands.  She  was  thinking  about  some- 
thing; she  did  not  stir  an  eyelash,  nor  hear  me.  Her 
face,  her  attitude,  and  her  fixed,  expressionless  gaze, 
and  her  incredibly  miserable,  dreadful,  and  icy-cold 
memories,  and  around  her  the  gondolas,  the  lights, 
the  music,  the  song  with  its  vigorous  passionate  cry 
of  ''  Jam-7no/  Jam-mo/'' — what  contrasts  in  life! 
When  she  sat  like  that,  with  tightly  clasped  hands, 
stony,  mournful,  I  used  to  feel  as  though  we  were 
both  characters  in  some  novel  in  the  old-fashioned 
style  called  "The  Ill-fated,"  "The  Abandoned," 
or  something  of  the  sort.  Both  of  us:  she  —  the 
ill-fated,  the  abandoned;  and  I  —  the  faithful,  de- 
voted friend,  the  dreamer,  and,  if  you  like  it,  a  super- 
fluous man,  a  failure  capable  of  nothing  but  coughing 
and  dreaming,  and  perhaps  sacrificing  myself.  .  .  . 
But  who  and  what  needed  my  sacrifices  now?  And 
what  had  I  to  sacrifice,  indeed? 

When  we  came  in  in  the  evening  we  always  drank 
tea  in  her  room  and  talked.  We  did  not  shrink 
from  touching  on  old,  unhealed  w^ounds  —  on  the 
contrary,  for  some  reason  I  felt  a  positive  pleasure 
in  teUing  her  about  my  life  at  Orlov's,  or  referring 
openly  to  relations  which  I  knew  and  which  could  not 
have  been  concealed  from  me. 

"  At  moments  I  hated  you,"  I  said  to  her. 
"  When  he  was  capricious,  condescending,  told  you 
lies,  I  marvelled  how  it  was  you  did  not  see,  did  not 
understand,  when  it  was  all  so  clear !  You  kissed  his 
hands,  you  knelt  to  him,  you  flattered  him.   .   .   ." 

"  When  I  .  .  .  kissed  his  hands  and  knelt  to  him, 
I  loved  him  .  .  ."  she  said,  blushing  crimson. 

An  Anonymous  Story  269 

"  Can  it  have  been  so  difficult  to  see  through  him? 
A  fine  sphinx !  A  sphinx  indeed  —  a  kammer- 
junkerf  I  reproach  you  for  nothing,  God  forbid," 
I  went  on,  feehng  I  was  coarse,  that  I  had  not  the 
tact,  the  dehcacy  which  are  so  essential  when  you 
have  to  do  with  a  fellow-creature's  soul;  in  early 
days  before  I  knew  her  I  had  not  noticed  this  defect 
in  myself.  "  But  how  could  you  fail  to  see  what  he 
was,  "  I  went  on,  speaking  more  softly  and  more 
diffidently,  however. 

*'  You  mean  to  say  you  despise  my  past,  and  you 
are  right,"  she  said,  deeply  stirred.  "  You  belong 
to  a  special  class  of  men  who  cannot  be  judged  by 
ordinary  standards;  your  moral  requirements  are  ex- 
ceptionally rigorous,  and  I  understand  you  can't  for- 
give things.  I  understand  you,  and  if  sometimes  I 
say  the  opposite,  it  doesn't  mean  that  I  look  at  things 
differently  from  you;  I  speak  the  same  old  nonsense 
simply  because  I  haven't  had  time  yet  to  wear  out  my 
old  clothes  and  prejudices.  I,  too,  hate  and  despise 
my  past,  and  Orlov  and  my  love.  .  .  .  What  was 
that  love?  It's  positively  absurd  now,"  she  said, 
going  to  the  window  and  looking  down  at  the  canal. 
"  All  this  love  only  clouds  the  conscience  and  con- 
fuses the  mind.  The  meaning  of  life  is  to  be  found 
only  in  one  thing  —  fighting.  To  get  one's  heel  on 
the  vile  head  of  the  serpent  and  to  crush  it!  That's 
the  meaning  of  life.     In  that  alone  or  in  nothing." 

I  told  her  long  stories  of  my  past,  and  described 
my  really  astounding  adventures.  But  of  the  change 
that  had  taken  place  in  me  I  did  not  say  one  word. 
She  always  listened  to  me  with  great  attention,  and  at 

270  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

Interesting  places  she  rubbed  her  hands  as  though 
vexed  that  it  had  not  yet  been  her  lot  to  experience 
such  adventures,  such  joys  and  terrors.  Then  she 
would  suddenly  fall  to  musing  and  retreat  into  her- 
self, and  I  could  see  from  her  face  that  she  was  not 
attending  to  me. 

I  closed  the  windows  that  looked  out  on  the  canal 
and  asked  whether  we  should  not  have  the  lire 

"  No,  never  mind.  I  am  not  cold,"  she  said,  smil- 
ing listlessly.  "  I  only  feel  weak.  Do  you  know,  I 
fancy  I  have  grown  much  wiser  lately.  I  have 
extraordinary,  original  ideas  now.  When  I  think  of 
my  past,  of  my  life  then  .  .  .  people  in  general,  in 
fact,  It  Is  all  summed  up  for  me  in  the  image  of  my 
stepmother.  Coarse,  insolent,  soulless,  false,  de- 
praved, and  a  morphia  maniac  too.  My  father, 
who  was  feeble  and  weak-willed,  married  my  mother 
for  her  money  and  drove  her  into  consumption;  but 
his  second  wife,  my  stepmother,  he  loved  passion- 
ately, insanely.  .  .  .  What  I  had  to  put  up  with! 
But  what  Is  the  use  of  talking!  And  so,  as  I  say,  it 
is  all  summed  up  in  her  image.  .  .  .  And  it  vexes  me 
that  my  stepmother  Is  dead.  I  should  like  to  meet 
her  now!  " 


"  I  don't  know,"  she  answered  with  a  laugh  and  a 
graceful  movement  of  her  head.  "  Good-night. 
You  must  get  well.  As  soon  as  you  are  well,  we'll 
take  up  our  work.   .   .  .   It's  time  to  begin." 

After  I  had  said  good-night  and  had  my  hand  on 
the  door-handle,  she  said: 

An  Anonymous  Story  271 

"What  do  you  think?  Is  Polya  still  living 
there?"      • 

"  Probably." 

And  I  went  off  to  my  room.  So  we  spent  a  whole 
month.  One  grey  morning  when  we  both  stood  at 
my  window,  looking  at  the  clouds  which  were  moving 
up  from  the  sea,  and  at  the  darkening  canal,  expect- 
ing every  minute  that  it  would  pour  with  rain,  and 
when  a  thick,  narrow  streak  of  rain  covered  the  sea 
as  though  with  a  muslin  veil,  we  both  felt  suddenly 
dreary.     The  same  day  we  both  set  off  for  Florence. 


It  was  autumn,  at  Nice.  One  morning  when  I 
went  into  her  room  she  was  sitting  on  a  low  chair, 
bent  together  and  huddled  up,  with  her  legs  crossed 
and  her  face  hidden  in  her  hands.  She  was  weeping 
bitterly,  with  sobs,  and  her  long,  unbrushed  hair  fell 
on  her  knees.  The  impression  of  the  exquisite 
marvellous  sea  which  I  had  only  just  seen  and  of 
which  I  wanted  to  tell  her,  left  me  all  at  once,  and  my 
heart  ached. 

''  What  is  it?  "  I  asked;  she  took  one  hand  from 
her  face  and  motioned  me  to  go  away.  "  What  is 
it?"  I  repeated,  and  for  the  first  time  during  our 
acquaintance  I  kissed  her  hand. 

"  No,  it's  nothing,  nothing,"  she  said  quickly. 
"  Oh,  it's  nothing,  nothing.  ...  Go  away.  .  .  . 
You  see,  I  am  not  dressed." 

I  went  out  overwhelmed.  The  calm  and  serene 
mood  in  which  I  had  been  for  so  long  was  poisoned 

272  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

by  compassion.  I  had  a  passionate  longing  to  fall 
at  her  feet,  to  entreat  her  not  to  weep  in  solitude,  but 
to  share  her  grief  with  me,  and  the  monotonous  mur- 
mur of  the  sea  already  sounded  a  gloomy  prophecy 
in  my  ears,  and  I  foresaw  fresh  tears,  fresh  troubles, 
and  fresh  losses  in  the  future.  "  What  is  she  crying 
about?  What  is  it?"  I  wondered,  recalling  her 
face  and  her  agonised  look.  I  remembered  she  was 
with  child.  She  tried  to  conceal  her  condition  from 
other  people,  and  also  from  herself.  At  home  she 
went  about  in  a  loose  wrapper  or  in  a  blouse  with  ex- 
tremely full  folds  over  the  bosom,  and  when  she 
went  out  anywhere  she  laced  herself  in  so  tightly 
that  on  two  occasions  she  fainted  when  we  were  out. 
She  never  spoke  to  me  of  her  condition,  and  when  I 
hinted  that  it  might  be  as  well  to  see  a  doctor,  she 
flushed  crimson  and  said  not  a  word. 

When  I  went  to  see  her  next  time  she  was  already 
dressed  and  had  her  hair  done. 

"  There,  there,"  I  said,  seeing  that  she  was  ready 
to  cry  again.  *'  We  had  better  go  to  the  sea  and 
have  a  talk." 

*'  I  can't  talk.  Forgive  me,  I  am  in  the  mood 
now  when  one  wants  to  be  alone.  And,  if  you 
please,  Vladimir  Ivanitch,  another  time  you  want 
to  come  into  my  room,  be  so  good  as  to  give  a  knock 
at  the  door." 

That  "  be  so  good  "  had  a  peculiar,  unfeminine 
sound.  I  w^ent  away.  My  accursed  Petersburg 
mood  came  back,  and  all  my  dreams  were  crushed 
and  crumpled  up  like  leaves  by  the  heat.  I  felt  I 
was  alone  again  and  there  was  no  nearness  between 

An  Anonymous  Story  273 

us.  I  was  no  more  to  her  than  that  cobweb  to  that 
palm-tree,  which  hangs  on  it  by  chance  and  which 
will  be  torn  off  and  carried  away  by  the  wind.  I 
walked  about  the  square  where  the  band  was  playing, 
went  into  the  Casino;  there  I  looked  at  overdressed 
and  heavily  perfumed  women,  and  every  one  of  them 
glanced  at  me  as  though  she  would  say:  "  You  are 
alone;  that's  all  right."  Then  I  went  out  on  the  ter- 
race and  looked  for  a  long  time  at  the  sea.  There 
was  not  one  sail  on  the  horizon.  On  the  left  bank, 
in  the  lilac-coloured  mist,  there  were  mountains,  gar- 
dens, towers,  and  houses,  the  sun  was  sparkling  over 
it  all,  but  it  was  all  alien,  indifferent,  an  incompre- 
hensible tangle. 


She  used  as  before  to  come  into  my  room  in  the 
morning  to  coffee,  but  we  no  longer  dined  together, 
as  she  said  she  was  not  hungry;  and  she  lived  only  on 
coffee,  tea,  and  various  trifles  such  as  oranges  and 

And  we  no  longer  had  conversations  in  the  eve- 
ning. I  don't  know  why  it  was  like  this.  Ever 
since  the  day  when  I  had  found  her  in  tears  she  had 
treated  me  somehow  lightly,  at  times  casually,  even 
ironically,  and  for  some  reason  called  me  "  My  good 
sir."  What  had  before  seemed  to  her  terrible, 
heroic,  marvellous,  and  had  stirred  her  envy  and  en- 
thusiasm, did  not  touch  her  now  at  all,  and  usually 
after  listening  to  me,  she  stretched  and  said : 

''  Yes,  *  great  things  were  done  in  days  of  yore,' 
my  good  sir." 

274  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

It  sometimes  happened  even  that  I  did  not  see 
her  for  days  together.  I  would  knock  timidly  and 
guiltily  at  her  door  and  get  no  answer;  I  would 
knock  again  —  still  silence.  ...  I  would  stand  near 
the  door  and  listen;  then  the  chambermaid  would 
pass  and  say  coldly,  ^^  Madame  est  partieJ'  Then  I 
would  walk  about  the  passages  of  the  hotel,  walk  and 
walk.  .  .  .  English  people,  full-bosomed  ladies, 
waiters  in  swallow-tails.  .  .  .  And  as  I  keep  gazing 
at  the  long  striped  rug  that  stretches  the  whole  length 
of  the  corridor,  the  idea  occurs  to  me  that  I  am  play- 
ing in  the  life  of  this  woman  a  strange,  probably  false 
part,  and  that  it  is  beyond  my  power  to  alter  that 
part.  I  run  to  my  room  and  fall  on  my  bed,  and 
think  and  think,  and  can  come  to  no  conclusion;  and 
all  that  is  clear  to  me  is  that  I  want  to  live,  and  that 
the  plainer  and  the  colder  and  the  harder  her  face 
grows,  the  nearer  she  is  to  me,  and  the  more  in- 
tensely and  painfully  I  feel  our  kinship.  Never 
mind  ''  My  good  sir,"  never  mind  her  light  careless 
tone,  never  mind  anything  you  like,  only  don't  leave 
me,  my  treasure.     I  am  afraid  to  be  alone. 

Then  I  go  out  into  the  corridor  again,  listen  in  a 
tremor.  ...  I  have  no  dinner;  I  don't  notice  the 
approach  of  evening.  At  last  about  eleven  I  hear 
the  familiar  footstep,  and  at  the  turn  near  the  stairs 
Zinaida  Fyodorovna  comes  into  sight. 

*'  Are  you  taking  a  walk?  "  she  would  ask  as  she 
passes  me.  *'  You  had  better  go  out  into  the 
air.   .  .   .  Good-night!  " 

*^  But  shall  we  not  meet  again  to-day?  " 

*'  I  think  it's  late.     But  as  you  like." 

Ah  Anonymous  Story  275' 

*'  Tell  me,  where  have  you  been?  "  I  would  ask, 
following  her  into  the  room. 

''Where?  To  Monte  Carlo."  She  took  ten 
gold  coins  out  of  her  pocket  and  said:  "Look, 
my  good  sir;  I  have  won.     That's  at  roulette." 

''  Nonsense  !     As  though  you  would  gamble." 

''  Why  not?     I  am  going  again  to-morrow." 

I  imagined  her  with  a  sick  and  morbid  face,  in 
her  condition,  tightly  laced,  standing  near  the 
gaming-table  in  a  crowd  of  cocottes,  of  old  women 
in  their  dotage  who  swarm  round  the  gold  like  flies 
round  the  honey.  I  remembered  she  had  gone  off 
to  Monte  Carlo  for  some  reason  in  secret  from 

"  I  don't  believe  you,"  I  said  one  day.  "  You 
wouldn't  go  there." 

"'  Don't  agitate  yourself.     I  can't  lose  much." 

"  It's  not  the  question  of  what  you  lose,"  I  said 
with  annoyance.  "  Has  it  never  occurred  to  you 
while  you  were  playing  there  that  the  glitter  of  gold, 
all  these  women,  young  and  old,  the  croupiers,  all  the 
surroundings  —  that  it  is  all  a  vile,  loathsome  mock- 
ery at  the  toiler's  labour,  at  his  bloody  sweat?  " 

"  If  one  doesn't  play,  what  is  one  to  do  here?  " 
she  asked.  "  The  toiler's  labour  and  his  bloody 
sweat  —  all  that  eloquence  you  can  put  off  till  an- 
other time ;  but  now,  since  you  have  begun,  let  me  go 
on.  Let  me  ask  you  bluntly,  what  is  there  for  me  to 
do  here,  and  what  am  I  to  do?  " 

''What  are  you  to  do?"  I  said,  shrugging  my 
shoulders.  "  That's  a  question  that  can't  be  an- 
swered straight  off," 

276  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

"  I  beg  you  to  answer  me  honestly,  Vladimir  Ivan- 
itch,"  she  said,  and  her  face  looked  angry.  "  Once 
I  have  brought  myself  to  ask  you  this  question,  I  am 
not  going  to  listen  to  stock  phrases.  I  am  asking 
you,"  she  went  on,  beating  her  hand  on  the  table,  as 
though  marking  time,  "what  ought  I  to  do  here? 
And  not  only  here  at  Nice,  but  in  general?  " 

I  did  not  speak,  but  looked  out  of  window  to  the 
sea.     My  heart  was  beating  terribly. 

"  Vladimir  Ivanltch,"  she  said  softly  and  breath- 
lessly; it  was  hard  for  her  to  speak — "Vladimir 
Ivanltch,  If  you  do  not  believe  in  the  cause  yourself, 
if  you  no  longer  think  of  going  back  to  It,  why  .  .  . 
why  did  you  drag  me  out  of  Petersburg?  Why  did 
you  make  me  promises,  why  did  you  rouse  mad 
hopes?  Your  convictions  have  changed;  you  have 
become  a  different  man,  and  nobody  blames  you  for 
it  —  our  convictions  are  not  always  in  our  power. 
But  .  .  .  but,  Vladimir  Ivanltch,  for  God's  sake, 
why  are  you  not  sincere?  "  she  went  on  softly,  com- 
ing up  to  me.  "  All  these  months  when  I  have  been 
dreaming  aloud,  raving,  going  Into  raptures  over  my 
plans,  remodelling  my  life  on  a  new  pattern,  why 
didn't  you  tell  me  the  truth?  Why  were  you  silent 
or  encouraged  me  by  your  stories,  and  behaved  as 
though  you  were  in  complete  sympathy  with  me? 
Why  was  it?     Why  was  it  necessary?  " 

"  It's  difficult  to  acknowledge  one's  bankruptcy," 
I  said,  turning  round,  but  not  looking  at  her.  "  Yes, 
I  have  no  faith;  I  am  worn  out.  I  have  lost 
heart.  ...  It  is  difficult  to  be  truthful  —  very  diffi- 
cult, and  I  held  my  tongue.     God  forbid  that  any  one 

An  Anonymous  Story  277 

should  have  to  go  through  what  I  have  been 

I  felt  that  I  was  on  the  point  of  tears,  and  ceased 

"  Vladimir  Ivanitch,"  she  said,  and  took  me  by 
both  hands,  "  you  have  been  through  so  much  and 
seen  so  much  of  life,  you  know  more  than  I  do ;  think 
seriously,  and  tell  me,  what  am  I  to  do  ?  Teach  me ! 
If  you  haven't  the  strength  to  go  forward  yourself 
and  take  others  with  you,  at  least  show  me  where  to 
go.  After  all,  I  am  a  living,  feeling,  thinking  being. 
To  sink  into  a  false  position  ...  to  play  an  absurd 
part  ...  is  painful  to  me.  I  don't  reproach  you,  I 
don't  blame  you ;  I  only  ask  you." 

Tea  was  brought  in. 

*'  Well?  "  said  Zinaida  Fyodorovna,  giving  me  a 
glass.     "  What  do  you  say  to  me  ?  " 

*'  There  is  more  light  in  the  world  than  you  see 
through  your  window,"  I  answered.  "  And  there 
are  other  people  besides  me,  Zinaida  Fyodorovna." 

'*  Then  tell  me  who  they  are,"  she  said  eagerly. 
"That's  all  I  ask  of  you." 

"  And  I  want  to  say,  too,"  I  went  on,  "  one  can 
serve  an  idea  in  more  than  one  calling.  If  one  has 
made  a  mistake  and  lost  faith  in  one,  one  may  find 
another.  The  world  of  ideas  is  large  and  cannot  be 

"  The  world  of  ideas!  "  she  said,  and  she  looked 
into  my  face  sarcastically.  ''  Then  we  had  better 
leave  off  talking.     What's  the  use?  .  .  ." 

She  flushed. 

"  The  world  of  ideas !  "  she  repeated.     She  threw 

278  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

her  dinner-napkin  aside,  and  an  expression  of  indig- 
nation and  contempt  came  into  her  face.  "  All  your 
fine  ideas,  I  see,  lead  up  to  one  inevitable,  essential 
step :  I  ought  to  become  your  mistress.  That's 
what's  wanted.  To  be  taken  up  with  ideas  without 
being  the  mistress  of  an  honourable,  progressive 
man,  is  as  good  as  not  understanding  the  ideas. 
One  has  to  begin  with  that  .  .  .  that  is,  with  being 
your  mistress,  and  the  rest  will  come  of  itself." 

"  You  are  irritated,  Zinaida  Fyodorovna,"  I  said. 

"No,  I  am  sincere!  "  she  cried,  breathing  hard. 
"  I  am  sincere !  " 

"  You  are  sincere,  perhaps,  but  you  are  in  error, 
and  it  hurts  me  to  hear  you." 

"  I  am  in  error?  "  she  laughed.  "  Any  one  else 
might  say  that,  but  not  you,  my  dear  sir!  I  may 
seem  to  you  indelicate,  cruel,  but  I  don't  care:  you 
love  me?     You  love  me,  don't  you?  " 

I  shrugged  my  shoulders. 

"  Yes,  shrug  your  shoulders!  "  she  went  on  sar- 
castically. "  When  you  were  ill  I  heard  you  in  your 
delirium,  and  ever  since  these  adoring  eyes,  these 
sighs,  and  edifying  conversations  about  friendship, 
about  spiritual  kinship.  .  .  .  But  the  point  is,  why 
haven't  you  been  sincere?  Why  have  you  concealed 
what  is  and  talked  about  what  isn't?  Had  you  said 
from  the  beginning  what  ideas  exactly  led  you  to 
drag  me  from  Petersburg,  I  should  have  known.  I 
should  have  poisoned  myself  then  as  I  meant  to,  and 
there  would  have  been  none  of  this  tedious 
farce.  .  .  .  But  what's  the  use  of  talking!  " 

With  a  wave  of  the  hand  she  sat  down. 

An  Anonymous  Story  279 

"  You  speak  to  me  as  though  you  suspected  me  of 
dishonourable  intentions/'  I  said,  offended. 

*' Oh,  very  well.  What's  the  use  of  talking!  I 
don't  suspect  you  of  intentions,  but  of  having  no  in- 
tentions. If  you  had  any,  I  should  have  known  them 
by  now.  You  had  nothing  but  ideas  and  love.  For 
the  present  —  ideas  and  love,  and  in  prospect  —  me 
as  your  mistress.  That's  in  the  order  of  things  both 
in  life  and  in  novels.  .  .  .  Here  you  abused  him," 
she  said,  and  she  slapped  the  table  with  her  hand, 
*'  but  one  can't  help  agreeing  with  him.  He  has 
good  reasons  for  despising  these  ideas." 

"He  does  not  despise  ideas;  he  Is  afraid  of 
them,"  I  cried.     "  He  is  a  coward  and  a  liar." 

"  Oh,  very  well.  He  is  a  coward  and  a  liar,  and 
deceived  me.  And  you?  Excuse  my  frankness; 
what  are  you?  He  deceived  me  and  left  me  to  take 
my  chance  in  Petersburg,  and  you  have  deceived  me 
and  abandoned  me  here.  But  he  did  not  mix  up 
ideas  with  his  deceit,  and  you  .  .  ." 

"  For  goodness'  sake,  why  are  you  saying  this?  " 
T  cried  in  horror,  wringing  my  hands  and  going  up 
to  her  quickly.  "  No,  Zinalda  Fyodorovna,  this  is 
cynicism.  You  must  not  be  so  despairing;  listen  to 
me,"  I  went  on,  catching  at  a  thought  which  flashed 
dimly  upon  me,  and  which  seemed  to  me  might  still 
save  us  both.  "  Listen.  I  have  passed  through  so 
many  experiences  in  my  time  that  my  head  goes 
round  at  the  thought  of  them,  and  I  have  realised 
with  my  mind,  with  my  racked  soul,  that  man  finds 
Ills  true  destiny  In  nothing  if  not  In  self-sacrlficint; 
love  for  his  neighbour.     It  is  towards  that  we  must 

28o  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

strive,  and  that  is  our  destination!  That  is  my 

I  wanted  to  go  on  to  speak  of  mercy,  of  forgive- 
ness, but  there  was  an  insincere  note  in  my  voice,  and 
I  was  embarrassed. 

"  I  want  to  live  !  "  I  said  genuinely.  ''  Xo  live,  to 
live!  I  want  peace,  tranquillity;  I  want  warmth  — 
this  sea  here  —  to  have  you  near.  Oh,  how  I  wish 
I  could  rouse  in  you  the  same  thirst  for  life !  You 
spoke  just  now  of  love,  but  it  would  be  enough  for 
me  to  have  you  near,  to  hear  your  voice,  to  watch 
the  look  In  your  face  .  .  . !  " 

She  flushed  crimson,  and  to  hinder  my  speaking, 
said  quickly : 

"  You  love  life,  and  I  hate  it.  So  our  ways  lie 

She  poured  herself  out  some  tea,  but  did  not  touch 
It,  went  into  the  bedroom,  and  lay  down. 

"  I  Imagine  it  Is  better  to  cut  short  this  conversa- 
tion," she  said  to  me  from  within.  "  Everything  is 
over  for  me,  and  I  want  nothing.  .  .  .  What  more 
is  there  to  say?  " 

''No,  it's  not  all  over!  " 

"Oh,  very  well!  ...  I  know!  I  am  sick  of 
It.  .  .  .  That's  enough." 

I  got  up,  took  a  turn  from  one  end  of  the  room 
to  the  other,  and  went  out  into  the  corridor.  When 
late  at  night  I  went  to  her  door  and  listened,  I  dis- 
tinctly heard  her  crying. 

Next  morning  the  waiter,  handing  me  my  clothes, 
Informed  me,  with  a  smile,  that  the  lady  in  number 
thirteen  was  confined.     I  dressed  somehow,  and  al- 

An  Anonymous  Story  281 

most  fainting  with  terror  ran  to  Zinaida  Fyodorovna. 
In  her  room  I  found  a  doctor,  a  midwife,  and  an  eld- 
erly Russian  lady  from  Harkov,  called  Darya  Mil- 
hailovna.  There  was  a  smell  of  ether.  I  had 
scarcely  crossed  the  threshold  when  from  the  room 
where  she  was  lying  I  heard  a  low,  plaintive  moan, 
and,  as  though  it  had  been  wafted  me  by  the  wind 
from  Russia,  I  thought  of  Orlov,  his  irony,  Polya, 
the  Neva,  the  drifting  snow,  then  the  cab  without  an 
apron,  the  prediction  I  had  read  in  the  cold  morning 
sky,  and  the  despairing  cry  "  Nina !     Nina  !  " 

**  Go  in  to  her,"  said  the  lady. 

I  went  in  to  see  Zinaida  Fyodorovna,  feeling  as 
though  I  were  the  father  of  the  child.  She  was 
lying  with  her  eyes  closed,  looking  thin  and  pale, 
wearing  a  white  cap  edged  with  lace.  I  remember 
there  were  two  expressions  on  her  face :  one  — 
cold.  Indifferent,  apathetic;  the  other  —  a  look  of 
childish  helplessness  given  her  by  the  white  cap. 
She  did  not  hear  me  come  In,  or  heard,  perhaps, 
but  did  not  pay  attention.  I  stood,  looked  at  her, 
and  waited. 

But  her  face  was  contorted  with  pain;  she  opened 
her  eyes  and  gazed  at  the  ceiling,  as  though  wonder- 
ing what  was  happening  to  her.  .  .  .  There  was  a 
look  of  loathing  on  her  face. 

"  It's  horrible  .   .  ."  she  whispered. 

**  Zinaida  Fyodorovna."  I  spoke  her  name 
softly.  She  looked  at  me  Indifferently,  listlessly,  and 
closed  her  eyes.  I  stood  there  a  little  while,  then 
went  away. 

At  night,   Darya  Mlhailovna  Informed  me  that 

282  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

the  child,  a  girl,  was  born,  but  that  the  mother  was  in 
a  dangerous  condition.  Then  I  heard  noise  and 
bustle  in  the  passage.  Darya  Mihailovna  came  to 
me  again  and  with  a  face  of  despair,  wringing  her 
hands,  said: 

"  Oh,  this  is  awful !  The  doctor  suspects  that  she 
has  taken  poison!  Oh,  how  badly  Russians  do  be- 
have here !  " 

And  at  twelve  o'clock  the  next  day  Zinaida  Fyodo- 
rovna  died. 


Two  years  had  passed.  Circumstances  had 
changed;  I  had  come  to  Petersburg  again  and  could 
live  here  openly.  I  was  no  longer  afraid  of  being 
and  seeming  sentimental,  and  gave  myself  up  entirely 
to  the  fatherly,  or  rather  idolatrous  feeling  roused 
in  me  by  Sonya,  Zinaida  Fyodorovna's  child.  I  fed 
her  with  my  own  hands,  gave  her  her  bath,  put  her 
to  bed,  never  took  my  eyes  off  her  for  nights  together, 
and  screamed  when  it  seemed  to  me  that  the  nurse 
was  just  going  to  drop  her.  My  thirst  for  normal 
ordinary  life  became  stronger  and  more  acute  as 
time  went  on,  but  wider  visions  stopped  short  at 
Sonya,  as  though  I  had  found  in  her  at  last  just  what 
I  needed.  I  loved  the  child  madly.  In  her  I  saw 
che  continuation  of  my  life,  and  it  was  not  exactly 
that  I  fancied,  but  I  felt,  I  almost  believed,  that  when 
I  had  cast  off  at  last  my  long,  bony,  bearded  frame, 
I  should  go  on  living  in  those  little  blue  eyes,  that 
silky  flaxen  hair,  those  dimpled  pink  hands  which 

An  Anonymous  Story  283 

stroked  my  face  so  lovingly  and  were  clasped  round 
my  neck. 

Sonya's  future  made  me  anxious.  Orlov  was  her 
father;  In  her  birth  certificate  she  was  called  Kras- 
novsky,  and  the  only  person  who  knew  of  her  ex- 
istence, and  took  interest  in  her  —  that  is,  I  —  was 
at  death's  door.     I  had  to  think  about  her  seriously. 

The  day  after  I  arrived  in  Petersburg  I  went  to 
see  Orlov.  The  door  was  opened  to  me  by  a  stout 
old  fellow  with  red  whiskers  and  no  moustache,  who 
looked  like  a  German.  Polya,  who  was  tidying  the 
drawing-room,  did  not  recognise  me,  but  Orlov  knew 
me  at  once. 

"  Ah,  Mr.  Revolutionist !  "  he  said,  looking  at  me 
with  curiosity,  and  laughing.  "  What  fate  has 
brought  you?  " 

He  was  not  changed  in  the  least:  the  same  well- 
groomed,  unpleasant  face,  the  same  irony.  And  a 
new  book  was  lying  on  the  table  just  as  of  old,  with 
an  ivory  paper-knife  thrust  In  it.  He  had  evidently 
been  reading  before  I  came  in.  He  made  me  sit 
down,  offered  me  a  cigar,  and  with  a  delicacy  only 
found  in  well-bred  people,  concealing  the  unpleasant 
feeling  aroused  by  my  face  and  my  wasted  figure,  ob- 
served casually  that  I  was  not  in  the  least  changed, 
and  that  he  would  have  known  me  anywhere  In  spite 
of  my  having  grown  a  beard.  We  talked  of  the 
weather,  of  Paris.  To  dispose  as  quickly  as  possible 
of  the  oppressive,  inevitable  question,  which  weighed 
upon  him  and  me,  he  asked: 

**  Zinaida  Fyodorovna  is  dead?" 

284  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

"  Yes,"  I  answered. 

"In  childbirth?" 

"  Yes,  in  childbirth.  The  doctor  suspected  an- 
other cause  of  death,  but  ...  it  is  more  comforting 
for  you  and  for  me  to  think  that  she  died  in  child- 

He  sighed  decorously  and  was  silent.  The  angel 
of  silence  passed  over  us,  as  they  say. 

"  Yes.  And  here  everything  is  as  it  used  to  be 
—  no  changes,"  he  said  briskly,  seeing  that  I  was 
looking  about  the  room.  "  My  father,  as  you  know, 
has  left  the  service  and  is  living  in  retirement;  I  am 
still  in  the  same  department.  Do  you  remember 
Pekarsky?  He  is  just  the  same  as  ever.  Gruzin 
died  of  diphtheria  a  year  ago.  .  .  .  Kukushkin  is 
alive,  and  often  speaks  of  you.  By  the  way,"  said 
Orlov,  dropping  his  eyes  with  an  air  of  reserve, 
*'  when  Kukushkin  heard  who  you  were,  he  began 
telling  every  one  you  had  attacked  him  and  tried  to 
murder  him  .  .  .  and  that  he  only  just  escaped  with 
his  life." 

I  did  not  speak. 

"  Old  servants  do  not  forget  their  masters.  .  .  . 
It's  very  nice  of  you,"  said  Orlov  jocosely.  "  Will 
you  have  some  wine  and  some  coffee,  though?  I 
will  tell  them  to  make  some." 

"  No,  thank  you.  I  have  come  to  see  you  about 
a  very  important  matter,  Georgy  Ivanitch." 

*'  I  am  not  very  fond  of  important  matters,  but  I 
shall  be  glad  to  be  of  service  to  you.  What  do  you 

*'  You  see,"  I  began,  growing  agitated,  "  I  have 

An  Anonymous  Story  285" 

here  with  me  ZInalda  Fyodorovna's  daughter.  .  .  . 
Hitherto  I  have  brought  her  up,  but,  as  you  see,  be- 
fore many  days  I  shall  be  an  empty  sound.  I  should 
like  to  die  with  the  thought  that  she  is  provided  for." 

Orlov  coloured  a  little,  frowned  a  little,  and  took 
a  cursory  and  sullen  glance  at  me.  He  was  unpleas- 
antly affected,  not  so  much  by  the  "  important  mat- 
ter "  as  by  my  words  about  death,  about  becoming  an 
empty  sound. 

"  Yes,  it  must  be  thought  about,"  he  said,  screen- 
ing his  eyes  as  though  from  the  sun.  "  Thank  you. 
You  say  it's  a  girl?  " 

"  Yes,  a  girl.     A  wonderful  child!  " 

"  Yes.  Of  course,  it's  not  a  lap-dog,  but  a  human 
being.  I  understand  we  must  consider  it  seriously. 
I  am  prepared  to  do  my  part,  and  am  very  grateful 
to  you." 

He  got  up,  walked  about,  biting  his  nails,  and 
stopped  before  a  picture. 

^'  We  must  think  about  it,"  he  said  in  a  hollow 
voice,  standing  with  his  back  to  me.  ''  I  shall  go  to 
Pekarsky's  to-day  and  will  ask  him  to  go  to  Kras- 
novsky's.  I  don't  think  he  will  make  much  ado 
about  consenting  to  take  the  child." 

*'  But,  excuse  me,  I  don't  see  what  Krasnovsky 
has  got  to  do  with  it,"  I  said,  also  getting  up  and 
walking  to  a  picture  at  the  other  end  of  the  room. 

"  But  she  bears  his  name,  of  course !  "  said  Orlov. 

"  Yes,  he  may  be  legally  obliged  to  accept  the  child 
- — I  don't  know;  but  I  came  to  you,  Georgy  Ivan- 
itch,  not  to  discuss  the  legal  aspect." 

'*  Yes,  yes,  you  are  right,"  he  agreed  briskly.     "  I 

286  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

believe  I  am  talking  nonsense.  But  don't  excite 
yourself.  We  will  decide  the  matter  to  our  mutual 
satisfaction.  If  one  thing  won't  do,  we'll  try  an- 
other; and  if  that  won't  do,  we'll  try  a  third  —  one 
way  or  another  this  delicate  question  shall  be  settled. 
Pekarsky  will  arrange  it  all.  Be  so  good  as  to  leave 
me  your  address  and  I  will  let  you  know  at  once  what 
we  decide.     Where  are  you  living?  " 

Orlov  wrote  down  my  address,  sighed,  and  said 
with  a  smile : 

"  Oh,  Lord,  what  a  job  it  is  to  be  the  father  of  a 
little  daughter !  But  Pekarsky  will  arrange  It  all. 
He  is  a  sensible  man.     Did  you  stay  long  In  Paris?  " 

"  Two  months." 

We  were  silent.  Orlov  was  evidently  afraid  I 
should  begin  talking  of  the  child  again,  and  to  turn 
my  attention  in  another  direction,  said: 

"  You  have  probably  forgotten  your  letter  by  now. 
But  I  have  kept  it.  I  understand  your  mood  at  the 
time,  and,  I  must  own,  I  respect  that  letter.  '  Damn- 
able cold  blood,'  '  Asiatic,'  '  coarse  laugh  ' —  that 
was  charming  and  characteristic,"  he  went  on  with  an 
ironical  smile.  "  And  the  fundamental  thought  Is 
perhaps  near  the  truth,  though  one  might  dispute  the 
question  endlessly.  That  is,"  he  hesitated,  "  not  dis- 
pute the  thought  Itself,  but  your  attitude  to  the  ques- 
tion —  your  temperament,  so  to  say.  Yes,  my  life  Is 
abnormal,  corrupted,  of  no  use  to  any  one,  and  what 
prevents  me  from  beginning  a  new  life  is  cowardice 
—  there  you  are  quite  right.  But  that  you  take  it  so 
much  to  heart,  are  troubled,  and  reduced  to  despair 
by  it  —  that's  irrational;  there  you  are  quite  wrong." 

An  Anonymous  Story  287 

"  A  living  man  cannot  help  being  troubled  and  re- 
duced to  despair  when  he  sees  that  he  himself  is  go- 
ing to  ruin  and  others  are  going  to  ruin  round  him." 

''  Who  doubts  it !  I  am  not  advocating  indiffer- 
ence; all  I  ask  for  is  an  objective  attitude  to  life. 
The  more  objective,  the  less  danger  of  falling  into 
error.  One  must  look  into  the  root  of  things,  and 
try  to  see  in  every  phenomenon  a  cause  of  all  the 
other  causes.  We  have  grown  feeble,  slack  —  de- 
graded, in  fact.  Our  generation  is  entirely  com- 
posed of  neurasthenics  and  whimperers;  we  do  noth- 
ing but  talk  of  fatigue  and  exhaustion.  But  the  fault 
is  neither  yours  nor  mine;  we  are  of  too  little  conse- 
quence to  affect  the  destiny  of  a  whole  generation. 
We  must  suppose  for  that  larger,  more  general 
causes  with  a  solid  raison  d'etre  from  the  biological 
point  of  view.  We  are  neurasthenics,  flabby,  rene- 
gades, but  perhaps  it's  necessary  and  of  service  for 
generations  that  will  come  after  us.  Not  one  hair 
falls  from  the  head  without  the  will  of  the  Heavenly 
Father  —  in  other  words,  nothing  happens  by  chance 
in  Nature  and  in  human  environment.  Everything 
has  its  cause  and  is  inevitable.  And  if  so,  why 
should  we  worry  and  write  despairing  letters?  " 

*'  That's  all  very  well,"  I  said,  thinking  a  little. 
*'  I  believe  it  will  be  easier  and  clearer  for  the  genera- 
tions to  come;  our  experience  will  be  at  their  service. 
But  one  wants  to  live  apart  from  future  generations 
and  not  only  for  their  sake.  Life  is  only  given  us 
once,  and  one  wants  to  live  it  boldly,  wnth  full  con- 
sciousness and  beauty.  One  wants  to  play  a  striking, 
independent,  noble  part;  one  wants  to  make  history 

288  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

so  that  those  generations  may  not  have  the  right  to 
say  of  each  of  us  that  we  were  nonentities  or 
worse.  ...  I  believe  what  is  going  on  about  us  is 
Inevitable  and  not  without  a  purpose,  but  what  have 
I  to  do  with  that  inevitability?  Why  should  my  ego 
be  lost?" 

"  Well,  there's  no  help  for  it,"  sighed  Orlov,  get- 
ting up  and,  as  it  were,  giving  me  to  understand  that 
our  conversation  was  over. 

I  took  my  hat. 

"  WeVe  only  been  sitting  here  half  an  hour,  and 
how  many  questions  we  have  settled,  when  you  come 
to  think  of  it!  "  said  Orlov,  seeing  me  into  the  hall. 
"  So  I  will  see  to  that  matter.  ...  I  will  see  Pekar- 
sky  to-day.   .  .   .   Don't  be  uneasy." 

He  stood  waiting  while  I  put  on  my  coat,  and  was 
obviously  relieved  at  the  feeling  that  I  was  going 

"  Georgy  Ivanltch,  give  me  back  my  letter,"  I 

''  Certainly." 

He  went  to  his  study,  and  a  minute  later  returned 
with  the  letter.     I  thanked  him  and  went  away. 

The  next  day  I  got  a  letter  from  him.  He  con- 
gratulated me  on  the  satisfactory  settlement  of  the 
question.  Pekarsky  knew  a  lady,  he  wrote,  who 
kept  a  school,  something  like  a  kindergarten,  where 
she  took  quite  little  children.  The  lady  could  be  en- 
tirely depended  upon,  but  before  concluding  anything 
with  her  it  would  be  as  well  to  discuss  the  matter  with 
Krasnovsky  —  It  was  a  matter  of  form.  He  ad- 
vised m^  to  see  Pekarsky  at  once  and  to  take  the  birth 

An  Anonymous  Story  289 

certificate  with  me,  if  I  had  it.  "  Rest  assured  of  the 
sincere  respect  and  devotion  of  your  humble  serv- 
ant. .  .  ." 

I  read  this  letter,  and  Sonya  sat  on  the  table  and 
gazed  at  me  attentively  without  blinking,  as  though 
she  knew  her  fate  was  being  decided. 



In  the  course  of  the  manoeuvres  the  N cavalry 

regiment  halted  for  a  night  at  the  district  town  of 

K .     Such  an  event  as  the  visit  of  officers  always 

has  the  most  exciting  and  inspiring  effect  on  the  in- 
habitants of  provinicial  towns.  The  shopkeepers 
dream  of  getting  rid  of  the  rusty  sausages  and  "  best 
brand  "  sardines  that  have  been  lying  for  ten  years 
on  their  shelves;  the  inns  and  restaurants  keep  open 
all  night;  the  Military  Commandant,  his  secretary, 
and  the  local  garrison  put  on  their  best  uniforms;  the 
police  flit  to  and  fro  like  mad,  while  the  effect  on  the 
ladies  is  beyond  all  description. 

The  ladles  of  K ,  hearing  the  regiment  ap- 
proaching, forsook  their  pans  of  boiling  jam  and  ran 
into  the  street.  Forgetting  their  morning  deshabille 
and  general  untidiness,  they  rushed  breathless  with 
excitement  to  meet  the  regiment,  and  listened 
greedily  to  the  band  playing  the  march.  Looking 
at  their  pale,  ecstatic  faces,  one  might  have  thought 
those  strains  came  from  some  heavenly  choir  rather 
than  from  a  military  brass  band. 

*' The  regiment!"  they  cried  joyfully.  *' The 
regiment  is  coming!  " 

What  could  this  unknown  regiment  that  came  by 
chance  to-day  and  would  depart  at  dawn  to-morrow 
mean  to  them? 


296  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

with  dancing  and  there  was  nowhere  he  could  play  a 
game  of  cards;  secondly,  because  he  could  not  en- 
dure the  sound  of  wind  instruments;  and,  thirdly,  be- 
cause he  fancied  the  officers  treated  the  civilians 
somewhat  too  casually  and  disdainfully.  But  what 
above  everything  revolted  him  and  moved  him  to  in- 
dignation was  the  expression  of  happiness  on  his 
wife's  face. 

"  It  makes  me  sick  to  look  at  her !  "  he  muttered. 
"  Going  on  for  forty,  and  nothing  to  boast  of  at  any 
time,  and  she  must  powder  her  face  and  lace  herself 
up!  And  frizzing  her  hair!  Flirting  and  making 
faces,  and  fancying  she's  doing  the  thing  in  style ! 
Ugh!  you're  a  pretty  figure,  upon  my  soul!  " 

Anna  Pavlovna  was  so  lost  In  the  dance  that  she 
did  not  once  glance  at  her  husband. 

"  Of  course  not !  Where  do  we  poor  country 
bumpkins    come    In !  "    sneered    the    tax-collector. 

*'  We  are  at  a  discount  now.  .  .  .  We're  clumsy 
seals,  unpolished  provincial  bears,  and  she's  the 
queen  of  the  ball !  She  has  kept  enough  of  her  looks 
to  please  even  officers.  .  .  .  They'd  not  object  to 
making  love  to  her,  I  dare  say!  " 

During  the  mazurka  the  tax-collector's  face 
twitched  with  spite.  A  black-haired  officer  with 
prominent  eyes  and  Tartar  cheekbones  danced  the 
mazurka  with  Anna  Pavlovna.  Assuming  a  stern 
expression,  he  worked  his  legs  with  gravity  and  feel- 
ing, and  so  crooked  his  knees  that  he  looked  like  a 
jack-a-dandy  pulled  by  strings,  while  Anna  Pavlovna, 
pale  and  thrilled,  bending  her  figure  languidly  and 
turning  her  eyes  up,  tried  to  look  as  though  she 

The  Husband  297 

scarcely  touched  the  floor,  and  evidently  felt  herself 
that  she  was  not  on  earth,  not  at  the  local  club,  but 
somewhere  far,  far  away  —  in  the  clouds.  Not  only 
her  face  but  her  whole  figure  was  expressive  of 
beatitude.  .  .  .  The  tax-collector  could  endure  it  no 
longer;  he  felt  a  desire  to  jeer  at  that  beatitude,  to 
make  Anna  Pavlovna  feel  that  she  had  forgotten  her- 
self, that  life  was  by  no  means  so  delightful  as  she 
fancied  now  in  her  excitement.  .  .  . 

"  You  wait;  I'll  teach  you  to  smile  so  blissfully," 
he  muttered.  "  You  are  not  a  boarding-school  miss, 
you  are  not  a  girl.  An  old  fright  ought  to  realise 
she  is  a  fright !  " 

Petty  feelings  of  envy,  vexation,  wounded  vanity, 
of  that  small,  provincial  misanthropy  engendered  in 
petty  officials  by  vodka  and  a  sedentary  life,  swarmed 
in  his  heart  like  mice.  Waiting  for  the  end  of  the 
mazurka,  he  went  into  the  hall  and  walked  up  to  his 
wife.  Anna  Pavlovna  was  sitting  with  her  partner, 
and,  flirting  her  fan  and  coquettishly  dropping  her 
eyelids,  was  describing  how  she  used  to  dance  in 
Petersburg  (her  lips  were  pursed  up  like  a  rosebud, 
and  she  pronounced  "  at  home  In  Piitiirsburg  ") . 

*'  Anyuta,  let  us  go  home,"  croaked  the  tax-col- 

Seeing  her  husband  standing  before  her,  Anna 
Pavlovna  started  as  though  recalling  the  fact  that 
she  had  a  husband;  then  she  flushed  all  over:  she  felt 
ashamed  that  she  had  such  a  sickly-looking,  ill- 
humoured,  ordinary  husband. 

*'  Let  us  go  home,"  repeated  the  tax-collector. 

*'Why?     It's  quite  early!" 

296  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

with  dancing  and  there  was  nowhere  he  could  play  a 
game  of  cards;  secondly,  because  he  could  not  en- 
dure the  sound  of  wind  instruments;  and,  thirdly,  be- 
cause he  fancied  the  officers  treated  the  civilians 
somewhat  too  casually  and  disdainfully.  But  what 
above  everything  revolted  him  and  moved  him  to  in- 
dignation was  the  expression  of  happiness  on  his 
wife's  face. 

*'  It  makes  me  sick  to  look  at  her !  "  he  muttered. 
"  Going  on  for  forty,  and  nothing  to  boast  of  at  any 
time,  and  she  must  powder  her  face  and  lace  herself 
up  !  And  frizzing  her  hair !  Flirting  and  making 
faces,  and  fancying  she's  doing  the  thing  in  style ! 
Ugh!  you're  a  pretty  figure,  upon  my  soul!  " 

Anna  Pavlovna  was  so  lost  In  the  dance  that  she 
did  not  once  glance  at  her  husband. 

"Of  course  not!  Where  do  we  poor  country 
bumpkins    come    In !  "    sneered    the    tax-collector. 

*'  We  are  at  a  discount  now.  .  .  .  We're  clumsy 
seals,  unpolished  provincial  bears,  and  she's  the 
queen  of  the  ball !  She  has  kept  enough  of  her  looks 
to  please  even  officers.  .  .  .  They'd  not  object  to 
making  love  to  her,  I  dare  say !  " 

During  the  mazurka  the  tax-collector's  face 
twitched  with  spite.  A  black-haired  officer  with 
prominent  eyes  and  Tartar  cheekbones  danced  the 
mazurka  with  Anna  Pavlovna.  Assuming  a  stern 
expression,  he  worked  his  legs  with  gravity  and  feel- 
ing, and  so  crooked  his  knees  that  he  looked  like  a 
jack-a-dandy  pulled  by  strings,  while  Anna  Pavlovna, 
pale  and  thrilled,  bending  her  figure  languidly  and 
turning  her  eyes  up,  tried  to  look  as  though  she 

The  Husband  297 

scarcely  touched  the  floor,  and  evidently  felt  herself 
that  she  was  not  on  earth,  not  at  the  local  club,  but 
somewhere  far,  far  away  —  in  the  clouds.  Not  only 
her  face  but  her  whole  figure  was  expressive  of 
beatitude,  .  .  .  The  tax-collector  could  endure  it  no 
longer;  he  felt  a  desire  to  jeer  at  that  beatitude,  to 
make  Anna  Pavlovna  feel  that  she  had  forgotten  her- 
self, that  life  was  by  no  means  so  delightful  as  she 
fancied  now  in  her  excitement.  .  .  . 

"  You  wait;  I'll  teach  you  to  smile  so  blissfully," 
he  muttered.  ''  You  are  not  a  boarding-school  miss, 
you  are  not  a  girl.  An  old  fright  ought  to  realise 
she  is  a  fright !  " 

Petty  feelings  of  envy,  vexation,  wounded  vanity, 
of  that  small,  provincial  misanthropy  engendered  in 
petty  officials  by  vodka  and  a  sedentary  life,  swarmed 
in  his  heart  like  mice.  Waiting  for  the  end  of  the 
mazurka,  he  went  into  the  hall  and  walked  up  to  his 
wife.  Anna  Pavlovna  was  sitting  with  her  partner, 
and,  flirting  her  fan  and  coquettlshly  dropping  her 
eyelids,  was  describing  how  she  used  to  dance  in 
Petersburg  (her  lips  were  pursed  up  like  a  rosebud, 
and  she  pronounced  "  at  home  in  Piitiirsburg  ") . 

"  Anyuta,  let  us  go  home,''  croaked  the  tax-col- 

Seeing  her  husband  standing  before  her,  Anna 
Pavlovna  started  as  though  recalling  the  fact  that 
she  had  a  husband;  then  she  flushed  all  over:  she  felt 
ashamed  that  she  had  such  a  sickly-looking,  ill- 
humoured,  ordinary  husband. 

"  Let  us  go  home,"  repeated  the  tax-collector. 

*'Why?     It's  quite  early!" 

298  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

"  I  beg  you  to  come  home !  "  said  the  tax-collector 
deliberately,  with  a  spiteful  expression. 

"Why?  Has  anything  happened?"  Anna  Pav- 
lovna  asked  in  a  flutter. 

"  Nothing  has  happened,  but  I  wish  you  to  go 
home  at  once.  ...  I  wish  it;  that's  enough,  and 
without  further  talk,  please." 

Anna  Pavlovna  was  not  afraid  of  her  husband,  but 
she  felt  ashamed  on  account  of  her  partner,  who  was 
looking  at  her  husband  with  surprise  and  amuse- 
ment. She  got  up  and  moved  a  little  apart  with  her 

"What  notion  is  this?"  she  began.  "Why  go 
home?     Why,  it's  not  eleven  o'clock." 

"  I  wish  it,  and  that's  enough.  Come  along,  and 
that's  all  about  it." 

"Don't  be  silly!  Go  home  alone  if  you  want 

"  All  right;  then  I  shall  make  a  scene." 

The  tax-collector  saw  the  look  of  beatitude  gradu- 
ally vanish  from  his  wife's  face,  saw  how  ashamed 
and  miserable  she  was  —  and  he  felt  a  little  happier. 

"  Why  do  you  want  me  at  once  ?  "  asked  his  wife.   , 

"  I  don't  want  you,  but  I  wish  you  to  be  at  home. 
I  wish  it,  that's  all." 

At  first  Anna  Pavlovna  refused  to  hear  of  it,  then 
she  began  entreating  her  husband  to  let  her  stay  just 
another  half-hour;  then,  without  knowing  why,  she 
began  to  apologise,  to  protest  —  and  all  in  a  whisper, 
with  a  smile,  that  the  spectators  might  not  suspect 
that  she  was  having  a  tiff  with  her  husband.  She 
began  assuring  him  she  would  not  stay  long,  only  an- 

The  Husband  299 

other  ten  minutes,  only  five  minutes;  but  the  tax-col- 
lector stuck  obstinately  to  his  point. 

"  Stay  If  you  like,"  he  said,  *'  but  I'll  make  a  scene 
if  you  do." 

And  as  she  talked  to  her  husband  Anna  Pavlovna 
looked  thinner,  older,  plainer.  Pale,  biting  her  lips, 
and  almost  crying,  she  went  out  to  the  entry  and  be- 
gan putting  on  her  things. 

''You  are  not  going?"  asked  the  ladles  in  sur- 
prise.    "  Anna  Pavlovna,  you  are  not  going,  dear?  " 

"  Her  head  aches,"  said  the  tax-collector  for  his 

Coming  out  of  the  club,  the  husband  and  wife 
walked  all  the  way  home  in  silence.  The  tax-col- 
lector walked  behind  his  wife,  and  watching  her 
downcast,  sorrowful,  humiliated  little  figure,  he  re- 
called the  look  of  beatitude  which  had  so  irritated 
him  at  the  club,  and  the  consciousness  that  the  beati- 
tude was  gone  filled  his  soul  with  triumph.  He  was 
pleased  and  satisfied,  and  at  the  same  time  he  felt  the 
lack  of  something;  he  would  have  liked  to  go  back  to 
the  club  and  make  every  one  feel  dreary  and  miser- 
able, so  that  all  might  know  how  stale  and  worthless 
life  is  when  you  walk  along  the  streets  In  the  dark 
and  hear  the  slush  of  the  mud  under  your  feet,  and 
when  you  know  that  you  will  wake  up  next  morning 
with  nothing  to  look  forward  to  but  vodka  and  cards. 
Oh,  how  awful  It  is ! 

And  Anna  Pavlovna  could  scarcely  walk.  .  .  . 
She  was  still  under  the  Influence  of  the  dancing,  the 
music,  the  talk,  the  lights,  and  the  noise;  she  asked 
herself   as   she   walked   along   why   God   had   thus 

300  The  Tales  of  Chekhov 

afflicted  her.  She  felt  miserable,  Insulted,  and 
choking  with  hate  as  she  listened  to  her  husband's 
heavy  footsteps.  She  was  silent,  trying  to  think  of 
the  most  offensive,  biting,  and  venomous  word  she 
could  hurl  at  her  husband,  and  at  the  same  time  she 
was  fully  aware  that  no  word  could  penetrate  her  tax- 
collector's  hide.  What  did  he  care  for  words? 
Her  bitterest  enemy  could  not  have  contrived  for  her 
a  more  helpless  position. 

And  meanwhile  the  band  was  playing  and  the 
darkness  was  full  of  the  most  rousing,  intoxicating 


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